Silly passives 1. Strunk's memorable visit to Boston
- My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
- I will always remember my first trip to Boston.
- We don't often turn first person active sentences into passive
- We don't often follow a passive with by and a pronoun, especially not with by me.
Silly passives 2. And then there's Stephen King
- Harrods began their spring sales yesterday. (transitive)
- If we want to put the emphasis on the sales, we can simply use the intransitive:
- Spring sales began at Harrods yesterday.
- Which is rather more natural than using a passive:
- The spring sales were begun at Harrods yesterday.
Silly passives 3. Danny the rock skipper
Digression - rocks or pebbles?
Silly passives 4. But this is what really puzzles me
- I gave him five rupees. (Active voice)
- Five rupees were given to him by me. (Passive Voice)
- He was given five rupees by me. (Passive Voice)
- I am helping Shannon.
- Shannon is being helped by me.
- I was cleaning the bathroom.
- The bathroom was being cleaned by me.
- I make a cake
- A cake is made (by me)
- I have been making a cake
- A cake has been being made (by me)
- I take the books -> the books are taken (by me)
- I will have bought the books -> the books will have been bought (by me)
Funny passives 1. Raymond Queneau - Exercises in Style
- The young gentleman was later seen by me in front of the Gare Saint-Lazare.
Funny passives 2. A gem from Samuel Pepys
How it should be done - teaching with natural examples.
- (1) Strunk - The Elements of Style - scroll down to 11. Use the active voice
- (2) My previous post On (Mis)identifying the passive
- (3) The Chronicle of Higher Education. - Geoffrey K Pullum's review of Elements
- (4) Lane Diamond - anti-Passive rant
- (5) English for students - teaching with bad examples
- (6) English zone - starts off OK, then silly 'by me' examples
- (7) The Greenbelt - linguistics blog - a defence of the passive, but again with totally unnatural examples
- (8) Perfect English - 'a cake is made (by me)' in 9 tenses, including one that's almost never used in the passive
- (9) Wikipedia - Raymond Queneau
- (10) Nina Parish - lesson on Queneau
- (11) YouTube - La Rue Watt - Boris Vian's wonderful song about a visit he made with Raymond Quenau to a street "at the ends of Paris"
- (12) Wikipedia - Samuel Pepys
- (13) Samuel Pepys Diary
- (14) YouTube - skipping stones
- Ergative verbs, what on earth are they? - My post on ergative verbs.