Lec 8: Grammatical Voice
11:15 PM Grammati...
Voice = relationship between verb + participants in the sentence
e.g. They built a house near the lake.
Subj v D.O.
- the subject does the action = active voice (doer of action is subject)
- the D.O. is directly affected by the verb (the undergoer)
e.g. The house was built by them.
- Subject is not the doer
- Passive voice - undergoer is the subject
- Doer = them
- Undergoer is affected by the verb
Active voice: They built a house.
Passive voice: A house was built by them.
○ English grammar has a number of ways of packaging info in order to emphasize certain info or to suppress or
background other info
○ One of these methods is
- Passive - when focus on the verb (e.g. building .. Of a house)
○ Object is more important than the subject, or sometimes we don’t know the doer.
○ "them" or doer is not known, can be omitted
- Passive - focus is on the action
- Passive - when don't know the doer (who did the action) or we might know, but it is not important
○ Syntactic criteria for subjecthood
- To be a subject = syntactic,
- Subject does not mean doer - subject in the structure is the beginning of the sentence before the main verb
- Subject is NP before verb
- Active subjects = doers
Action verbs (e.g. teaching) = subject is doer
States (e.g. looks, seems..etc) = subject is experiencer
Past participle = come after auxiliaries (be, or have)
Agent = doer of action
Theme = event described the verb, undergoer
Lexical verb = main verb!
Agent and theme = theta roles (meaning, who did the action, what was affected by the verb)
Lectures Page 1 Agent and theme = theta roles (meaning, who did the action, what was affected by the verb)
Subject and object mean = positions in the sentence
○ Mary saw the book.
The book was seen by Mary.
○ Bill should eat the pie.
The pie should be eaten by Bill.
(should = modal, modals don't change. Use plain form after modals)
MODAL + be + Past Participle
The passive construction
○ -> be + pp of main verb
Interpretation of grammatical voice
○ The boy chased the girl. -> No passive construction (subj interpreted as doer)
○ The boy was chased by the girl -> Passive construction (subj interpreted as undergoer)
○ Subjects to not always correspond to an ACTOR/DOER.
○ In the first clause "Bill" is both the subject and the actor, while the second clause "Bill" is still the actor but he
is no longer the subj "The Caribou" has become the subject.
○ These two types of clauses = ACTIVE and PASSIVE
Active clauses are = default
In ACTIVE clauses = Actor/ doer / experiencer in event (e.g. AGENT) = usually assigned to subj position
□ While the entity undergoing the event described by the verb (e.g. THEME) = assigned the obj position
In PASSIVE clauses = reverse ^
Entity undergoing the event = THEME (in subj position)
□ Actor/participant/experiencer = AGENT (optionally be intro by the preposition "by"
□ In the simplest cases, active + passive clauses usually correspond:
Lectures Page 2 - "by-phrase" (by agent = optional in passive because focus I not on the agent it is on the theme)
More examples of Passivisation
Optionality of Agents in the Passive
○ The by-phrase containing the agent is optional
○ The first is called LONG PASSIVE (contain by-phrase w. AGENT)
○ The second is called SHORT PASSIVE (w. Agent OMITTED)
- Long passive = with by phrase with agent
- Short passive = omit the agent
Np2 + (am / is / are) + pp
passive - transitive (because it takes an object)
Tense in passive clause (chart)
- Do not need to know: Past perfect progressive and Future perfect prgressive
Simple present = They require some documents.
am / is / are + pp
object = some documents
move it to the front to become subject (NP2 be + pp by NP1)
Some documents are required.