UNIT 42. Passive 3

Australia-05 grammar


I was offered … / we were givin …, etc.

Some verbs can have two object. For example, give:
– Someone gave the police the information. (= Someone game the information to the police)

the police -> object 1
the information -> object 2

So it is possible to make two passive sentences:
– The police were given the information. or The information was given to the police.

Other verbs that can have two objects are:
ask offer pay show teach tell

When we use these verbs in the passive, most often we begin with the person:
– I was offered the job, but I refused it. (= they offered me the job)
– You will be given plenty of time to decide. (= we will give you plenty of time)
– Have you been shown the new machine? (= has anybody shown you?)
– The men were paid $200 to do the work. (= somebody paid the men $200)


I don’t like being …

The passive of doing / seeing, etc., is being done / being seen, etc. Compare:

active : I don’t like people telling me what to do.
passive : I don’t like being told what to do.

  • I remember being taken to the zoo when I was a child. (= I remember somebody taking me to the zoo)
  • Steve hates being kept waiting. (= he hates people keeping him waiting)
  • We managed to climb over the wall without being seen. (= without anybody seeing us)


I was born …

We say I was born … (not I am born):

  • I was born in Chicago.
  • Where were you born? (not Where are you born?)
  • How many babies are born every day?



You can use get instead of be in the passive:
– There was a fight at the game, but nobody got hurt. (= nobody was hurt)
– I don’t often get invited to parties. (= I’m not often invited)
– I’m surprised Ann didn’t get offered the job. (= Ann wasn’t offered the job)

You can use get only when things happen or change. For example, you cannot use get in the following sentences:
– Jill is liked by everybody. (not gets liked – this is not a “happening”)
– He was a mystery man. Very little was known about him. (not got known)

We use get mainly in informal spoken English. You can use be in all situations.

We also use get in the following expressions (which are not passive in meaning):

get married, get divorced
get lost (= not know where you are)
get dressed (= put on your clothes)
get changed (= change your clothes)

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