Saturday, June 15, 2013

Infinitives after passives

Passive verbs are sometimes followed by infinitives and occasionally by -ing forms. In this post we look at some examples.
  • 1. Verb + object + infinitive
  • 2. Infinitives after wh-words
  • 3. Infinitives of purpose, etc
  • 4. Infinitive forms
  • 5. Passive reporting structures
  • 6. Passives after preparatory it and there
  • 7. Actions after verbs of perception - see, hear etc
  • 8. Bringing it all together.

1. Verb + object + infinitive

In active sentences some verbs follow the pattern:
  • subject + verb + object + to-infinitive
    The receptionist told me to wait.
    They made him take a test.
In most cases these can be made passive. In the passive, all verbs (including make) are followed by to + infinitive.
  • subject + passive verb + to-infinitive
    I was told to wait (by the receptionist).
    He was made to take a test.
Verbs used like this include advise, allow, ask, expect, instruct, make, mean, order, require, teach, tell
Note 1. - let is not used this way in the passive; we need to use allow instead.
  • We were let to stay up late
    We were allowed to stay up late.
Note 2. - some verbs followed by an infinitive in active sentences are not used in the passive - like, dislike, hate, prefer, love, wish, etc.

2. Infinitives after wh-words

These structures usually come after active verbs, eg - I don't know who to ask, but sometimes occur after passives, especially with tell and show.
  • We were told where to go.
  • They were shown what to do and how to do it.

3. Infinitive of purpose etc

We can also use an infinitive to mean in order to or something like so that. These are usually in the active, but passives are also possible.
  • He was selected to represent his country.
  • It has been designed to withstand high temperatures.
  • The bushes were planted there to hide the rubbish bins.
Exercise 1Make passive versions of the sentences, keeping in the same tense and omitting the agent (in brackets). Use contractions where appropriate, but don't add any punctuation.
1. (They) ordered her to pack her bags and leave.
2. (They) encouraged her to apply for promotion.
3. (They) were just showing us what to do when it started to rain.
4. Does (he) really make the team run four miles before breakfast every day?
5. (They)'ll tell you what to do when you arrive.
6. (She)'s not asking them to do very much.

4. Infinitive forms

So far we have only used the standard to-infinitive, but Passive verbs can be followed by a to-infinitive in various forms. See if you can remember them:
Exercise 2Enter the six forms of the to-infinitive of the verb do.
standardWe were told it immediately.
continuousHe is thought it right now.
perfectShe was meant it already.
perfect continuousThey are thought it for hours.
passiveThe task is scheduled before the end of the week.
passive perfectThe job was reported rather well.
Notes: .
  • Perfect infinitives are used for actions that happened before the reporting
  • Passive perfect infinitives are sometimes used to emphasise that something is or isn't complete - It was to have been done today, but they didn't manage.

5. Passives followed by an infinitive - reporting verbs

In active sentences reporting verbs usually follow the pattern:
  • subject + reporting verb + that clause
    They believe that the tourists are safe.
    They reported that the suspect was dangerous.
In the passive, these verbs follow the same pattern with a to-infinitive as the causative verbs we've just been looking at.
    subject + passive verb + to-infinitive
    The tourists are believed to be safe.
    The suspect was reported to be dangerous.
This pattern is used with verbs such as say, believe, feel, consider, know, report, think, understand
Exercise 3Enter a suitable verb in the appropriate form of the infinitive. Each infinitive is in a different form.
arrive   ·   injure   ·   look for   ·   plan   ·   release   ·   unveil  
1. Apple are expected their new iPhone next week.
2. New crime figures are expected tomorrow.
3. The company are thought this move for several months.
4. Several people were reported in the crash.
5. The club are currently understood a new manager.
6. They are believed in Britain on a boat.

6. Structures with preparatory it and preparatory there

There are two other structures used with reporting and similar verbs:
  • it + that-clause
    It is said that
  • there + to-infinitive
    There are known to be
You can find out more about these, and practise with some exercises, at my post on passive reporting structures (link below).

7. Actions after verbs of perception and certain other verbs

There are a couple of structures that can be used after verbs of perception, such as see, hear etc. We can use an -ing form to suggest that something was in progress, or a bare infinitive to suggest that the person witnessed the whole action. Notice what happens to these in the passive.
  • Subj + verb perception + obj + -ing form
    She saw a man climbing out of a window.
    A man was seen climbing out of a window.
  • Subj + verb perception + obj + bare infinitive
    They heard someone shout a warning.
    Someone was heard to shout a warning.
Notice the change to a to-infinitive in the passive infinitive version. In practice, only see, hear and observe are used much in the passive.
There's also a small group of verbs used in a similar way, but that are used only with the -ing form - catch, discover, find, keep (sb waiting), leave (sb doing sth)
Exercise 4Make passive versions of the sentences, keeping them in the same tense, starting with the words given in brackets and omitting the agents. Don't use any contractions, and don't add any punctuation.
1. They caught Johnny smoking behind the bicycle sheds. (Johnny)
2. People saw a man with a gun get into a parked car. (A man)
3. Your people have kept me waiting long enough. (I)
4. They had found the little boy playing by himself near the canal. (The little boy)
5. They heard the woman shout a warning to her husband. (The woman)
6. They observed the young man breaking into a shop. (The young man)
Sometimes these are combined with passive reporting structures
  • A man was reported to have been seen climbing out of a window.
  • It was said that she had been overheard threatening her neighbour.

8. Bringing it all together

Exercise 5Make passive versions of the sentences, keeping in the same tense, omitting the agent (in brackets). Don't add any punctuation.
1. (They) chose her to represent them at the convention.
2. Have (they) told you what to do in an emergency?.
3. (Her friends) planned the party to be a surprise.
4. (Police) suspect that the stolen goods have already been sold.
5. (We) will expect you to follow the rules to the letter.
6. (They) had made us pay in advance.
7. In those days (they) built houses to last.
8. (We) are telling people not to expect too much at this stage.
9. (People) saw him jump out of a first-floor window.
10. (Neighbours) heard him the couple arguing late at night.
Exercise 6Make passive versions of the sentences, keeping in the same tense, omitting the agent (in brackets). Don't add any punctuation.
1. (Police) proved that his alibi was false.
2. (Experts) forecast that unemployment will drop later this year.
3. (Friends) have recommended that we try the new Thai restaurant.
4. (Observers) expect that an announcement will be made tomorrow.
5. (The manufacturer) makes these sweets to make your mouth water.
6. (They) are going to erect a monument to commemorate him.
7. (People) reported that he has been seen in the neighbourhood.
8. (They) had thought that she had married him for his money.
9. (The shopkeeper) had noticed him hanging round outside the shop earlier on.
10. (Officials) were advising tourists to avoid the area.



Related posts


Unknown said...

I am confused seeing the exercise of number 5 of number 10.
the sentence is, Neighbours heard him the couple arguing late at night.
the given answer was,The couple were heard arguing late at night.
to me, there was an error in the above sentence and the right answer should be, neighbours heard him/the couple arguing late at night;therefore, the modified answer of its passive voice would be, The couple were/ He was heard arguing late at night.
correct me if I'm wrong.
thanks in advance.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.