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Passive. Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs. The “Passive Voice” uses Transitive verb forms. Passive. Many verbs can be either Transitive or Intransitive , depending on the sense. Passive vs. Active. Passives and Tense/Aspect. Why the Passive?. Because:

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Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs

The “Passive Voice” uses Transitive verb forms.


Many verbs can be either Transitive or Intransitive, depending on the sense.

Why the Passive?
  • Because:
  • The “agent” is not to be mentioned. This could be because:
    • The “agent” is obvious:
      • Pineapples are grown by pineapple farmers.
      • Pineapples are grown in Hawaii.
    • We don’t know who the “agent” is:
      • The bank was robbed yesterday.
    • The “agent” is a general thing:
      • Joe could not be described as an easy-going sort of fellow.
    • The speaker/writer is being tactful:
      • The students had been a bit confused, and needed help.
    • The speaker/writer is being evasive:
      • Mistakes were made.
“Mistakes were made…”

9 Police Officers Face Disciplinary Action After Inquiry in Central Park Attacks



(NYT; June 13, 2000) Police Commissioner Howard Safir said yesterday that nine New York police officers, including six supervisors, would be disciplined for mistakes that allowed an unruly mob of men to turn a section of Central Park into a menacing gantlet where they sexually assaulted dozens of women after the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

In addition to the nine officers, Mr. Safir said, the two high-ranking chiefs who were in charge at the June 11 parade will be given letters of instruction noting the shortcomings of the operation, and three civilian 911 dispatchers will be punished for improper handling of calls reporting the riotous behavior, thus delaying the police response.

"It is obvious that mistakes were made before, during and after the parade," he said.

Why the Passive, con’t?
  • Because:
  • The “nonagent” is more important in the text:
    • […] This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. It was recommended to me by a friend. […]
  • There is more than one subject, to which the object applies:
    • Gods and Monsters is filmmaking at its best, […] Exquisite performances are given by the great Sir Ian McKellen as Whale, who executes every nuance, every witticism, every emotion, with a perfection that is little short of incredible; Lynn Redgrave as Hanna, Whale's formidable but devoted housekeeper; and Brendan Fraser, in a wonderfully humane acting turn as Clay Boone […]
  • The “nonagent” is a participant in the immediately preceding sentence or phrase:
    • It meant that the Iceman was almost certainly in the valley within half a day of his death. Previously scientists had speculated that the Iceman had died in the late summer, when he was surprised by an early storm while trying to cross the pass.