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  1. SEVMJ's Avatar
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    #1

    Infinitve in impersonal passives

    Hi! I've got a question related to the infinitive in passive sentences with verbs of reporting:

    The Queen is said to donate €2000 to the hospital every year.
    The thief is believed to be robbing a bank next week.
    The Queen is known to have met more than 20 Vips yesterday.
    Stonehenge is thought to have been built over a period of 500 years.

    How could I explain my students the different uses of the infinitive in this type of passive sentences? Thank you for your help!
    Last edited by SEVMJ; 20-Apr-2016 at 21:04.

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    #2

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    I'm not sure I get your question, but they just focus on the important part (Stonehenge, the Queen), while the active sentences would use a vague subject people/many think/believe/say/reckon Stonehenge was built, etc.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    The thief is believed to be stealing a bank next week.


    He will be robbing it, not stealing​ it.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 20-Apr-2016 at 13:53.

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    #4

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    In international English, you have a question, not a doubt.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    I'm not completely sure what it is you want to explain but your examples can be considered as reporting information. The use of the passive creates a kind of reserved distance between the speaker and the alleged factual information.

    To show the uses of infinitive, maybe you could reformulate the sentences in a more sensible/familiar way:

    (It is said) the queen donates...
    (It is believed) the thief will be robbing...
    (It is known) the Queen met...
    (It is thought) Stonehenge was built...

    This might make it more clear. Of course, they still need to understand the tenses used.

  3. SEVMJ's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Infinitive in impersonal passives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I'm not sure I get your question, but they just focus on the important part (Stonehenge, the Queen), while the active sentences would use a vague subject people/many think/believe/say/reckon Stonehenge was built, etc.
    Thank you for your help but my question is related to the use of the infinitive, that is, how can students know when to use the to+infinitive, to+be+ing, to+have+past participle or to+have+been+past participle?

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    Can you see the pattern here? -

    People say she works. - She is said to work.
    People say she is working. - She is said to be working.

    People say she worked/has worked. - She is said to have worked.
    People say she was working/has been working. - She is said to have been working.

    People say she is employed. - She is said to be employed.
    Peole say she was employed/has been employed. She was said to have been employed.


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    #8

    Re: Infinitve in impersonal passives

    The rule for this transformation seems to be that you change the main verb to its corresponding infinitive form: present simple to present infinitive; present continuous to continuous infinitive; simple past or past perfect to perfect infinitive; etc.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #9

    Re: Infinitive in impersonal passives

    Quote Originally Posted by SEVMJ View Post
    ...my question is related to the use of the infinitive, that is, how can students know when to use the to+infinitive, to+be+ing, to+have+past participle or to+have+been+past participle?
    As Piscean shows very clearly, your question is not particularly related to the use of the infinitive, but to the use of aspect (perfect/continuous/simple).

    Just tell them they have to use a to-infinitive form in constructions like that because it's grammatically necessary to do so. You don't need to "explain" why. (If there's anything to explain it's the use of the different aspects.)

    Call the infinitive forms whatever you think is appropriate - I often use 'perfect infinitive', 'continuous infinitive', etc. The terminology is not really important - just make sure you focus carefully on the form.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Infinitive in impersonal passives

    I'll just add one thing to jutfrank's post. English has no 'past infinitive' as such. The form generally known as the 'perfect infinitive' serves for both the perfect aspect and the past tense.

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