past verbs that follow to be

Discussion in 'English Only' started by elliot larner, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. elliot larner Junior Member

    Whats the difference between this sentence
    where are BMW cars MADE
    where do they make BMW cars
    Why do we use made in the past after the verb to be ????

    Are there special verbs that work in this way

  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Both questions ask for the same information. "Where are BMW cars made?" emphasizes the word "made" rather than "BMW cars".

    "Made" is the participle I usually hear placed at the end of a question. Other participles could be used that way, but they aren't used often: Where are sandwiches eaten? This question is unusual.
  3. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    "Made" is operating as an adjective in the first sentence; the verb is "are," in the present tense. (Edit: and that's called a participle, as owlman says.)
  4. elliot larner Junior Member

    Ok thanks what other verbs work as adjectives in this case ?????
  5. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    You can do this with just about any participle, elliot larner: made, eaten, built, shot, etc. Once again, participles other than "made" are not frequently used.
  6. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Take the declarative sentences: BMW's are made in Germany. Compare, "They [manufacturers] make BMW's in Germany."

    That is not a correct conceptualization. The first sentence is about cars. The past participle describes them. The verb 'to be' is not the key. Consider. "I refuse to buy cars made in Germany." "Cars made in Germany are usually of fine quality."

    The second sentence is about manufacture/making of cars. It says that in present, that occurs in Germany.

    I'm not sure what Owlman means by
    Assuming we're talking about cars, lots of participles might be used and are used, e.g., manufactured, designed, tested, disposed of, shown, presented, displayed, etc. etc. {"XXX cars are [participle] in Frankfurt, Germany.")

    ADDED: Much of the above is superseded or replaced by the points in post #10 and ff. by Donny and others.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  7. elliot larner Junior Member

    What other verbs can we use in this way, after the verb to be
  8. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    The verb 'to be' is not the crucial issue, in my opinion, as I stated in post #6. At very least, a host of verbs related to appearance, state, and presentation might be involved.

    ADDED: For 'other verbs' which, as participles, might be used, see those at the end of my post #6. These are not the verbs I'm talking about in my two sentences, above.
  9. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I've already answered your question, elliot larner, but you didn't understand the answer. You keep using the word "verbs": What other verbs can we use in this way? It makes more sense to use the word "participles".

    Once again, you can use almost any participle this way, but some participles are used much more often than others are. Here are some of them: built, made, eaten, grown, read, run These are related to the verbs "build", "make", "eat", "grow", "read", and "run".
  10. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I'm just as confused as the OP by some of the answers here: surely this is just a straightforward passive voice construction using the present tense of the verb "to make" :confused:

    So "BMW make cars in Germany" becomes "Cars are made in Germany [by BMW]", which you can re-cast as "BMW cars are made in Germany.

    That being the case, it seems to me that the answer to the OP's question
    is that you can do it with any transitive verb - although some will produce very unnatural and stilted constructions.
  11. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I agree entirely with Donny.

    This is a straightforward passive construction, and, therefore, the form can be used with transitive verbs.
  12. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Exactly. In the sentence "BMWs are made in Germany," "made" is not an adjective. The words "are made" are the passive voice form of the verb "to make."

    Likewise, in the sentence "Where are BMWs made?", it doesn't matter that "made" is at the end of the question. "Are... made" is the passive voice of the verb "to make."

    These are verbs. Yes, there are participles here, but they are participles being used to form the passive voice of a verb. Any verb that takes an object can be put in the passive voice.
  13. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Those are good points, Donny, TT, and lucas.

    The phrasing and conceptualization of the question in the OP led me astray.

    elliot asked,
    I did at least say that the question about verb forms following 'to be' was not well formulated. I should have said, however, that
    some form of 'to be' and past participle is standard passive construction. So the broader point by lucas is obviously correct, any verb may be so used in its past participle form.

    There are, of course, clear cases of participles serving as adjectives in so-called 'stative passive' constructions. Based on Wiki's example: "Mary was relieved to hear there had been no accident."

    ADDED: JamesM, below, gives a standard or true passive sentence for this verb, below.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  14. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I'm not sure what stative passive is, but to use it as a verb in a passive construction it would be "Mary was relieved of her duties after her supervisor realized she was intoxicated."
  15. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I agree; many past (and present) participles have entered the English language as full-flown adjectives independent of their verbs. This gets to the hoary (around here) issue of deverbalization. I didn't mean to say that all combinations of [to be] + past participle are passive-voice constructions.

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