found on the street by my brother (position of the agent)

aldegunde

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi everybody!
When I have to transform a long sentence into the passive voice, sometimes I hesitate about what the most natural position for the agent is:
My brother found a wallet on the street last night
1-A wallet was found on the street by my brother last night
2-A wallet was found by my brother on the street last night
Thanks in advance for your help
 
  • inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't have any rules for this, I'm afraid, but I prefer A wallet was found on the street by my brother last night, because I think it is more useful to interpret that the wallet was lying in the street than that my brother was walking along the street.
    This type of dilemma occurs in the typical active-to-passive transformation exercises where, for the purpose of practising a construction, students are required to create sentences which are not altogether natural.
    Well, that's only my opinion, of course!
     

    FromPA

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It's unavoidable that no matter which phrase you put first, it seems to de-emphasizes the other phrase. So the writer has a choice to make, but it really doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.
     

    inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's unavoidable that no matter which phrase you put first, it seems to de-emphasizes the other phrase. So the writer has a choice to make, but it really doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.
    Frompa, I would also accept both sentences as perfectly correct, and I agree with you that mentioning the street or the brother first would give either of them more emphasis, but do you think I'm nitpicking when I raise more objections to the second sentence because I find some ambiguity between whether the wallet or the brother was on the street? I won't be surpised if you say "Yes", because obviously they both had to be in the same place at the same time to find/be found.
     

    LaTamarola

    Member
    Slovak - Slovakia
    Hello :)
    How about the position of the agent here? Are both of these sentences correct?

    It was taken by Mr Smith to the bank.
    It was taken to the bank by Mr Smith.

    Thank you :)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hello :)
    How about the position of the agent here? Are both of these sentences correct?

    It was taken by Mr Smith to the bank.
    It was taken to the bank by Mr Smith.

    Thank you :)
    Both are correct, and in this case, they have the same clear meaning since "Mr. Smith to the bank" cannot be one phrase.

    The original second sentence seems to contain the phrase "my brother on the street", which would give that written sentence a different meaning from that of the original first sentence.

    In speech, we can make clear that "my brother" and "on the street" are not all one phrase, giving the second sentence the same meaning as the first, but in writing we have a problem that standard punctuation cannot solve.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top