Passive sentence

everestdude

Senior Member
hindi
A: I saw her go to the club.
B: She was seen to go to the club.

A: I look forward to the weekend.
B: The weekend is looked forward to.

Are sentence Bs the correct passive form of sentence As?
 
  • Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    For B, you've done the correct transformation, but it sounds awkward.
    A more natural way to express that meaning:
    "The weekend is eagerly anticipated."
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    For B, you've done the correct transformation, but it sounds awkward.
    A more natural way to express that meaning:
    "The weekend is eagerly anticipated."
    Thank you for your reply. Can you please check one more sentence?

    A: I believe in god.
    B: God is believed in.

    Is sentence B the passive form of sentence A and does it sound awkward too?
     
    The linguist Pullum wrote an essay, now famous, debunking myths about the passive, e.g. that it's weak, ineffective, evasive.
    http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/passive_loathing.pdf

    He points out that Orwell's famous essay* condemning passives has at least 13% passives.

    This is not a statistical quirk. Orwell’s writing features significantly more passives than typical prose. By one count, on average in typical prose about 13% of the transitive verbs are in the passive, whereas in Orwell’s essay ‘Politics and the English language’ it is 20% (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, p. 720, citing Bryant 1962). My own counts, adhering strictly to the definitions of Huddleston & Pullum et al. (2002), are somewhat higher... {http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/passive_loathing.pdf }

    *Politics and the English language.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree it’s important for learners to appreciate that the passive voice should be used sparingly, but they certainly shouldn’t be put off using it altogether. It has its virtues – to the extent that it’s often the active form of a statement that would be out of place, because the focus is on whoever or whatever receives an action, not who or what carries it out: e.g. I think the boy is being bullied at school; many were forced to leave their homes; the risk was known about for years before any action was taken.

    In the OP examples, “the weekend is looked forward to” is a prime example of when not to use the passive, but something like “she was seen going into the club” is the standard way of stating that fact in a legal or journalistic context.
     
    A: I saw her go to the club.
    B: She was seen to go to the club.

    A: I look forward to the weekend.
    B: The weekend is looked forward to.

    Are sentence Bs the correct passive form of sentence As?

    While these examples don't work and seem weak, it's important to see how sentences can be made powerful, even persuasive, with the passive. Note Cenzontle's {#3} reworking of your second example while retaining the passive:

    "The weekend is eagerly anticipated."

    Here are some examples from Orwell's famous essay I referred to [10 above], on weak, flabby English-- an essay denouncing overuse of passives! (About 6 of 8 main verbs are passive!)

    The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purposes verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved from anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired,
     
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