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summary

- PASSIVE WITH GET
- PASSIVE WITH TO HAVE
- VERBS WITH TWO OBJECTS
- A SENTENCE AS THE SUBJECT
- VERBS OF OPINION
- VERBS OF THE SENSES / HELP, MAKE

 

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Passive Voice: special cases
 
Level: Level: Medium

Passive Voice: special cases

To learn about the Passive Voice click here. In this article we are going to see some special cases.

 

PASSIVE WITH GET

In informal conversation, GET is often used instead of To Be.

    I got fired yesterday (= I was fired yesterday)
    If you get robbed, report to the police
    The balloon got filled with gas
    There was a fight, but nobody got hurt

 

PASSIVE WITH TO HAVE

    have   +   object   +    past participle   

The idea behind this construction is "I got someone to do something for me" (especially when you pay for the service)

   
I had my car cleaned = I employed someone to clean my car
I'll have my hair cut = I'll pay a hair-dresser to cut my hair
I've had my roof repaired = I've hired someone to repair my roof
I'm having my kids looked after = A friend's taking care of them for me

Compare:

- I cut my hair yesterday I did it myself, so I probably look horrible
- I had my hair cut yesterday I went to the hairdresser's and they cut my hair

In this construction "to have" is a normal verb, so it needs DO
    Do you have your windows cleaned every month? - No, I don't have them cleaned so often

Again, we can use GET instead of HAVE in colloquial speech
    He got his room painted
    I'm getting all my floors polished

 

VERBS WITH TWO OBJECTS

Some verbs have two objects (direct and indirect). In that case we can use two constructions:

1-    Ron gave some flowers to Mary
2-    Ron gave Mary some flowers

In English, both constructions can be turned into passive voice:

1-    Some flowers were given to Mary
2-    Mary was given some flowers

Option 2 is not possible in many languages, but in English it is the most usual choice.

They told me a secret A secret was told to me = I was told a secret

 

A SENTENCE AS THE SUBJECT

When the object of the active voice is a whole sentence (connected with that), we have again two possibilities (second one more used):

They say (that) he is ill           It is said (that) he is ill
He is said to be ill

 

VERBS OF OPINION

Something similar happens with verbs of opinion: say, think, expect, know, believe, understand, consider, find... These verbs may use the construction of verbs with two objects (1) or verbs followed by a sentence (2) as seen above (again, second option is most frequent):

1- They considered me a tourist 
       
It was considered (that) I was a tourist

I was considered to be a tourist

2- They think (that) I am a spy 
             
I am thought (that) I was a spy

I am thought to be a spy

2- People belive it is true
              
It was believed (that) it was true

It was believed to be true

 

VERBS OF THE SENSES, HELP & MAKE

Verbs of the senses, help and make (but not let), which are followed by infinitive without to in the active voice, are, nevertheless, followed by a complete infinitive in the passive.

Active: They made me do it    
They saw him leave
   
They let us go
Passive:         I was made to do it    He was seen to leave   We were let go

 

IMPERATIVE FORM IN THE PASSIVE VOICE

To change an imperative form into the passive voice we use the construction: LET + OBJECT + BE/GET + Past Participle

    Serve the best wine Let the best wine be served
    Don't speak a word here Let a word not be spoken here

In the active form we are specifically telling you to do something, in the passive version we want the action to be done, by you or by somebody else, it doesn't matter.

The passive imperative is rare and sounds very formal or old-fashioned. You can find it in a book of instructions:
    Let the meat be baked at 45 degrees
But it would sound really strange if someone told you this orally.

This form is most usually found in old books and poetry: "Let my eyes be filled with your presence for eternity" blush

So remember this, if you try to change a normal imperative into a passive imperative, 95% of the times the result will be a perfect grammatically correct nonsense:
    Turn off the TV Let the television be turned off  weird
    Eat your food Let your food be eaten  sad
    Give me your money Let your money be given to me  crying

 
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