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    #1

    Question They are building new houses outside the town

    Hi,


    Active: They are building new houses outside the town.


    1. New houses are being built by them outside the town
    2. New houses are being built outside the town by them.

    Does the order matter in passive sentences like this one? I mean do we change the order of passive voice only for putting more emphasis or does it deal with the naturalness of the sentence as well.


    I mean in the following example, it is told that number 1 is less natural than the second one.

    1. Lots of cars are made by them in Korea.
    2. Lots of cars are made in Korea by them.

    Then how about the first example? Which one is more natural? or can we choose either of them depending on our emphasis?

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    None of the four is particularly natural. They are the sort of sentences that some learners are made to produce in tedious exercises. Very few native speakers would say or write such sentences. We'd either use the active or, if we really wanted to use a passive, drop 'by them'.

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    #3

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    Venus.jam, is somebody forcing you to change perfectly natural active sentences into unnatural passive ones? If not, and you're just doing it as an academic exercise, forget it and spend your time doing something more productive.

    Please read this excellent summary of occasions when the passive is appropriate:

    When/if we use the passive, it is generally because:

    - We don't know who the agent is, or the agent is not important:

    Ruth Ellis was hanged in 1955. She was the last woman to be executed in Great Britain.

    Here, the person who performed the execution is known to some (but not many) people, but he is unimportant. What is important is the hanging of this woman.

    ***

    -We may wish not to place importance on the agent:

    I'm afraid your application for a loan has been declined.

    Possibly the speaker rejected it himself, but would rather not admit this.

    ***
    - In academic writing, especially in scientific writing, the passive gives an impersonal, objective impression.

    The passive is rarely used in informal conversation.

    People who use the passive for one of these, or for some other reason, generally produce the sentences in the passive. They do not produce an active sentence and then transform it. I loathe transformation exercises in coursebooks. They often result in very unnatural sentences.

    (Piscean)
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 15-Oct-2016 at 11:51.

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    #4

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Venus.jam, is somebody forcing you to change perfectly natural active sentences into unnatural passive ones? If not, and you're just doing it as an academic exercise, forget it and spend your time doing something more productive.

    Please read this excellent summary of occasions when the passive is appropriate:
    Dear teacher,

    I do agree with you. But, you know in university course books here passive voice exercises are like the ones in my posts and students are required to change nice active sentences into awkward and unnatural passive ones in order to learn passive voice which are as you said are pointless most of the time.
    Can passive voice be taught in another way rather than asking the students to change active sentences into passive ones? I'd really appreciate if all respectable teachers here share their ideas on how to teach passive voice in a more beneficial way.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 15-Oct-2016 at 14:30.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    I explain it as it was explained in the quoted text in post #3. I have not imposed transformation exercises on learners for many years. When it is appropriate for the learners to use the passive, I explain it as a form in its own right, not as a transformed active.

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    #6

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Venus.jam, is somebody forcing you to change perfectly natural active sentences into unnatural passive ones? If not, and you're just doing it as an academic exercise, forget it and spend your time doing something more productive.

    Please read this excellent summary of occasions when the passive is appropriate:
    Dear teacher,

    I do agree with you. But, you know in university course books passive voice exercises are like the ones in my posts and students are required to change nice active sentences into awkward and unnatural passive ones which are as you said are pointless most of the time.
    I'd really appreciate if all respectable teachers here share their ideas on how to teach passive voice in a more beneficial way.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 15-Oct-2016 at 14:31.

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    #7

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    Quote Originally Posted by Venus.jam View Post
    I'd really appreciate if all respectable teachers here share their ideas on how to teach passive voice in a more beneficial way.
    You seem to know how to do it. By just drop the "by X" phrase where the resulting sentence is unnatural. "New houses are being built outside the town."
    I'm assuming you have some idea of what's not natural, since you ask about teaching it.

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    #8

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    You seem to know how to do it. By just drop the "by X" phrase where the resulting sentence is unnatural. "New houses are being built outside the town."
    I'm assuming you have some idea of what's not natural, since you ask about teaching it.

    Yes, absolutely! I do have some idea of teaching it! But, I don't think that my idea is sufficient in this case, since I'm not a native English speaker. In some cases, some sentences sounds unnatural to me, but I'd like to ask a native speaker to confirm it as well. My job is teaching but I do believe in consulting with other native teachers in order to know their ideas as well. As you know, native speakers can judge the naturalness of a text better than non-native speakers.
    Of course, I also know that what has resulted in positive outcomes in other teachers' classes and in other contexts may not be beneficial for me and in the context where I teach and vice versa. Anyway, thanks for your idea.
    Moreover, as you see, you were the only answerer who referred to the way through which I can change the unnatural passive form into a natural one by simply dropping "by them" here. So each person has his/her own point of view and I'm interested in becoming familiar with even subtle points in learning a language.


    Regards,
    Last edited by Venus.jam; 15-Oct-2016 at 15:02.

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    #9

    Exclamation Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    P.S. By the way, I wonder if it is correct to say "by just drop" or we should say "by just dropping" in your sentence?!
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 15-Oct-2016 at 19:33. Reason: Deleting quote.

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    #10

    Re: They are building new houses outside the town

    I think he means 'Just drop ...', an imperative.
    I am not a teacher.

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