passivization

last changed in 2002

Passivization is the operation that we must go through in our minds in order to create a passive participle. This is a very special form of a verb because the normal relations between syntactic valents and semantic roles are reversed: the normal subject is `demoted' to being an optional adjunct introduced by BY, and the new subject may be the normal object.

For example, (1) and (2) both contain the same lexeme, STUDYv, but this is passivized in (2). Studying in (1) is an active participle, while studied in (2) is a passive participle.

(1) The people studying linguistics now are all brilliant.

(2) The subjects studied by our students are all interesting.

The WG analysis of passive participles is quite simple. Like any other non-finite verb-form they must depend on some other word - in (1) and (2) this is a common noun, but it is often the auxiliary verb BE as in (3).

(3) Linguistics is studied by linguistics students.

These `upwards' links are handled in the usual way (adjunct in (1-2), sharer in (3)).

As for the `downwards' links, the main characteristic to be aware of is that the subject of a passive participle must also have some other grammatical function. In the simplest cases this is the `object' relation to the passive verb itself, but for other possibilities see prepositional passive. In (3), for example, Linguistics is not only the subject of studied, but also its object. The figure illustrates some passive analyses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an article from the Encyclopedia of Word Grammar and English grammar. If you refer to it, please give the url as "http://tinyurl.com/wg-encyc".