be buried

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Allegro molto

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello

Where is George Washington buried?
(from a dictionary)

Is the "buried" an adjective rather than a past participle?

Thank you
 
  • Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I must disagree with the distinguished Mr. M. "Dead" is indeed an adjective; the past participle of "die" is "died." But "they buried [verb "bury" in the active voice, past tense] George Washington at Mount Vernon" and for the last 212 years he has been buried [past perfect tense, passive voice] there. He still is buried there. The past participle is used here with the simple present of the verb "to be" to make the present tense, passive voice of the transitive verb "to bury."
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I often make mistakes, and I'm always grateful to learn something here on WRF.

    This confuses me. Maybe you can explain it to me in a way that helps it to stick.

    If I say "Why is he famous?", "famous" is an adjective. Likewise, I can say "For what is he known?" "Known" here is what I understand to be an adjective. I believe it's called a participial adjective. [edit] Sorry, I got that wrong. I believe it's a predicate adjective.

    If I say "A buried hatchet was unearthed during remodeling", "buried" is an adjective. So "buried" exists as an adjective.

    How is it, then, that "buried" here in the original poster's sentence must be only the past participle in the passive voice? What test do I apply to prove that it isn't an adjective?
     
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    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    My understanding of a "participal" is that it is a "verbal adjective." The terminology of English grammar was originally developed for Latin. But Latin, like English, also uses participals with inflected forms of the verb "to be" to form compound verb tenses in the passive voice. In the case of "bury," we have the following, active voice first, then passive voice:

    Present: They bury/are burying George Washington at Mount Vernon. George Washington is buried at MV.
    Past: They buried/were burying GW at MV. GW was buried/was being buried at MV.
    Future: They will bury/will be burying GW at MV. GW will be buried at MV.
    Present Perfect: They have buried/have been burying GW at MV. GW has been buried at MV.
    Past Perfect: They had buried/had been burying GW at MV. GW had been buried at MV.
    Future Perfect: They will have buried/will have been burying GW at MV. GW will have been buried at MV.

    In all these passive constructions, the "past participle" "buried" is an element of a compound tense with a form of the verb "to be" (which may be further compounded).

    "Buried" can also function just as an adjective:
    A buried body decomposes more slowly than an unburied one.
    A buried body was found at Mount Vernon, but it wasn't George Washington's.
    The buried ruins of a previously undiscovered civiliation have been unearthed in the Amazon delta.
    Buried by the avalanche, he froze to death.

    In these constructions, the participle isn't compounded with forms of the verb "to be." There isn't a subject to turn into the direct object of a verb in the active voice. Notice that, for instance, in the first pair of sentences, "George Washington" is the direct object of "bury" in the active voice but is the subject of "bury" in the passive voice.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I have no problem with active / passive voice or understanding it. What I'm saying is that the structure "X is Y" uses the copular verb to connect the two sides.

    "He is dead" is not the same as "He has died".
    "He is buried", to me, is not the same as "He has been buried."

    "He is known" is not the same as "He has known". "Known" refers back to "He" in the first sentence.

    I'll see if I can find something that clears it up for me.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I have no problem with active / passive voice or understanding it. What I'm saying is that the structure "X is Y" uses the copular verb to connect the two sides.

    "He is dead" is not the same as "He has died".
    "He is buried", to me, is not the same as "He has been buried."

    "He is known" is not the same as "He has known". "Known" refers back to "He" in the first sentence.

    I'll see if I can find something that clears it up for me.
    In the general structure "X is Y," Y can be a predicate noun or a predicate adjective:
    He is a pederast.
    He is weird.

    But "is <past participle>" is the structure for the present passive tense, just as "is <present participle>" is the structure for the present active progressive and "has <past participle" is the structure for the present perfect active. In "He is burying his dead father," "burying" is part of the verb, not independently describing "him." There is a passive progressive form that also uses the past participle, "He is being buried by his son."

    "Died" is not the same as "buried" because "die" is not a transitive verb. One can "be buried" by others but one can not "be died."

    "He is known" is not the same as "He has known" because "He is known" is the present passive whereas "he has known" is the present perfect active. In neither case is "known" functioning as an adjective. In "He is a known pederast," "known" is functioning as an adjective. In "We know him as a pederast," the verb is in the active voice, with subject "we" and direct object "him." We can convert this sentence into the passive voice by making the direct object the subject and the subject the object of a preposition ("by" in this case): "He is known by us as a pederast."

    I am sorry that I can not explain this any better.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I don't believe it's a function of explanation. It might be an issue of classifying things differently. I'll post what I've found as soon as I have a good, clear example.

    Here's a previous discussion on the topic that Cagey pointed out to me:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1328608


    Here are some more thoughts on it...

    "The bridge is broken." Broken is a past participle but in this case it is functioning as an adjective. It describes the bridge. We are talking about the bridge's state or condition.

    "The bridge is broken by the weight of the trucks as they pass over it." Broken is now present passive, describing the action.

    "He is tired." Tired is an adjective describing his state.
    "He is tired by the constant emotional strain but continues on." Tired is present passive, describing the action.

    "The man is dead and buried." Buried is clearly an adjective here.
    "The man is buried as the bagpipes play 'Amazing Grace'." Buried is now present passive, describing the action.
    "The man is buried by the old church." Adjective
    "The man is buried by his friends in the last scene of the movie." present passive

    There is a difference between an adjective describing state/condition and action described in passive voice.

    Here is another thread on the subject:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1893800


    Ah... here's another explanation of it, using the term "stative passive".

    http://www.eslgold.com/grammar/stative_passives.html

    An excerpt from this page:

    Stative passives are verb-like words that follow "be" in sentences and function as adjectives. Stative passives indicate a status or condition which may exist over a period of time. In contrast, action verbs often indicate a change from one status to another.
     
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