My car is said to have been seen [passive]

awa131

Senior Member
Polish
Hello
Can you tell me if the following sentence is grammatically correct " My car is said to have been last seen in front of the church"
Thank you.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It might be grammatically correct, but it is a very puzzling sentence; in fact it's tortuous. If it is meant to be an example of normal, colloquial use of the passive, I wouldn't accept it. I am wondering where it came from and why.
     

    awa131

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It comes from a grammar book. I have another one and I wonder how you feel about it.
    If they hadn't found that book, I wouldn't have been able to read it - If that book hadn't been found, it wouldn't have been able to be read. Is this part grammatically correct?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    The original one is grammatically correct, but the use of the double passive there makes it so stilted that I can't envisage a native speaker actually saying it like that.

    Your second example doesn't work at all: you can't use "is able to" with a passive construction like that.
     

    awa131

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you.
    I have to practise grammar structures, so it seems to me that that author of this exercise didn't think about the fact how natural the sentences are.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    There's nothing wrong with having an inanimate subject in a passive voice sentence:

    "Three people were killed when their car was hit by a train on a level crossing" would work.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    As Donny says, you can certainly use inanimate subjects in passive constructions. There's nothing wrong with "My car is said to have been seen" - it's the placing of "last" in that sentence which makes it awkward. And your second sentence would work with "it couldn't have been..." instead of "it wouldn't have been able to be...".
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Can you tell me if the following sentence is grammatically correct " My car is said to have been last seen in front of the church"
    I have no difficulty at all with the sentence. I hear such things regularly on the news: "The suspect is said to have been last seen in the Donetsk area."

    This style is called anonymisation: we do not know who said it and we do not know who saw the suspect - it might be the same person or it might be two different people.

    In the UK, official sources of news use this form regularly to comply with human rights legislation in respect of protecting the source[s] of information and intelligence. If the report said, "Mikhail Kolakov said that Georgi Pankov told him that he had seen the suspect..." we can easily imagine that both Mikhail Kolakov and Georgi Pankov will be dead very shortly.

    I agree with Loob that "... to have been seen last..." is better.
     
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