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1. Agentless Passives and Diagramming the Passive Ed McCorduck
agentless passives sentences in the passive voice that dont have a by phrase, hence in which the subject of the active-voice equivalent (i.e., the agent) is not given
slide 2: definition of an agentless passive
Nuclear weapons are made from fissible materials.
= (Scientists) make nuclear weapons from fissible materials.
My pet scorpion has been stolen.
= (Someone/somebody/a crook) has stolen my pet scorpion.
Saddam was acclaimed a Sunni national hero.
= (People/They) acclaimed Saddam a national hero.
slide 3: examples of passive sentences without expressed agents
Therefore, unlike the normal derivation of a passive sentence from an active-voice one as we saw in The Passive Voice lecture, in the derivation of an agentless passive we must assume that there always is an actual, indefinite agent, i.e., a subject of the active sentence, even if this is not expressed through a by phrase in the passive:
slide 4: difference between normal passive sentences and agentless passives
The cut-rate hospital discards the body parts every evening.
subj pres + MV (discard) dir obj ADV
The body parts are discarded by the cut-rate hospital every evening.
dir obj pres + be + -en +MV (discard) subj ADV
slide 5: derivation of a passive sentence with an expressed agent (a by phrase)
active (with indefinite subject):
Somebody/A lackey discards the body parts every evening.
subj pres + MV (discard) dir obj ADV
The body parts are discarded every evening.
dir obj pres + be + -en +MV (discard) ADV
slide 6: derivation of an agentless passive
In Reed-Kellogg diagrams of passive sentences, since by is a preposition a by phrase is diagrammed like any other prepositional phrase, that is, the head preposition by is given on a slanted line connected to the predicate on the main horizontal line and the slanted line connects to a horizontal line parallel with the main horizontal line on which is the head of the NP that corresponds to the agent in the active.
slide 7: how by phrases are handled in Reed-Kellogg diagrams
active: The girl decked the boy. (Pattern VII)
subj past + MV (deck) dir obj
passive: The boy was decked by the girl.
dir obj past + be + -en + MV (deck) subj
slide 5: derivation of another passive sentence with an expressed agent (a by phrase)
9. slide 9: Reed-Kellogg of the active sentence in slide 8
10. slide 10: Reed-Kellogg of the passive sentence in slide 8
11. Recall from slide 19 of The Passive Voice lecture that in passive sentences derived from Pattern VIII active sentences, i.e., ones in which there is both a direct and an indirect object, either the direct object of the active equivalent (the patient) or the indirect object in the active can be made the subject of the passive sentence:
slide 11: review of how to make passives of Pattern VIII sentences
Virgil shows Dante Hell and Purgatory.
indir obj dir obj
Virgil shows Hell and Purgatory to Dante.
dir obj indir obj
Hell and Purgatory are shown to Dante by Virgil.
Dante is shown Hell and Purgatory by Virgil. slide 12: alternative active and passive versions of a Pattern VIII sentence
13. slide 13: Reed-Kellogg diagram of one of the passives in slide 12
14. slide 14: Reed-Kellogg diagram of a passive derived from a Pattern IX sentence
15. Note of course that the diagram does not contain a by phrase since, as in the sentence itself, the agent is not expressed. slide 15: Reed-Kellogg diagram of an agentless passive sentence