A doubt about passive voice

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New Member
Hello everybody.

I have a doubt about the passive voice that I will try to explain below.

Some verbs can hold a double object, and that's easy enough:
I send a letter to you. -----> A letter is sent to you (by me).
I send you a letter. --------> You are sent a letter (by me).

Now, my doubt is about a sentence where the direct object is missing, and we only have an indirect object:

People give to me. - (as in, people often give me things because, say, I am poor, or needy)

How would you turn that into a passive sentence?

I've come up with two options, but I am not sure whether they're both okay:
I am given (by people).
I am given to (by people).

I am aware that whenever we have a phrasal or a prepositional verb in the active voice, all prepositions following the verb are kept in the passive voice. We say "Music is listened to by the kids every day.", and omitting the preposition "to" would be incorrect. But for some reason, I can't decide which of the above examples is correct, if any.

Let's move on to a context where I praise the people who give me stuff because I think they're very nice:

The people I am given by are so nice.
The people I am given to by are so nice.

Same question here: which of the above is correct?

Thank you all in advance!
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You need to retain the preposition, but your passive versions are unnatural. I can't see them being used, but if you insist on a passive version of "People give to me", that's what you need:

    I am given to by people.
    The people I am given to by are so nice.


    New Member
    Thank you velisarius! Don't worry, I know those examples come off as quite unnatural and wouldn't normally be phrased that way, but my doubt was a purely grammatical one.


    New Member
    Give is a transitive verb so it needs an object.

    Active : People give object A to me.
    Passive: I have been given object A by people.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    That very much depends on the verb, and also its particular use. 'Give' can omit a direct object when it means giving charitably:

    They gave generously.
    They gave to the poor.

    But not when it means giving a present:

    :cross:They gave to each other for Christmas.
    :cross:They gave each other for Christmas. [= above, with the gift not named]

    It is unnatural to make 'give to' passive, but it can be done with other verbs with prepositions:

    They were spoken to sharply.
    They were looked to for advice.

    Those aren't ditransitive, however (verbs with possibly two objects). I'm trying to think of a ditransitive ('send', 'lend', 'post'/'mail') where you can make a passive of the 'to'-phrase, and I can't think of one:

    :cross:They were sent to. [i.e. someone sent them a letter]
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