15 Best Rules for Changing Active Sentences into Passive Sentences

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The linguistic systems of one of the languages are transferred into the other in the process of producing the latter, which is the second or target language. For example, English and Yoruba can be regarded as two languages that overlap.

In an attempt by a Yoruba-English speaker to use/speak the English Language, the systems of the Yoruba language grammar, lexis, phonology, and semantics are transferred into English.

Features of language interference

In interference, one of the two or more languages in use in a speech community is dominant. The features of the dominant language (source language) are transferred to the subordinates or target languages at the grammatical, phonological, lexical, and discourse levels.

Pupils should understand the usage and pattern of language so that they would be able to overcome the problem of the application of second language situation (SLS).

Rule-governed as a language characteristic

One of the characteristics of language is rule-governed. Within the limits set by the rules of the grammar, which are perhaps partly universal and partly specific to particular languages, native speakers of a language are free to act creatively in what Chomsky would say is a distinctively human way, to construct indefinitely many utterances.

This notion of rule-governed creativity is closely associated with that of productivity. Alo (2006: 24) buttresses the point that ‘human creativity is observable in language use.

He says further that being creative itself, language has the potential to convey a limitless number of messages, enabling its users to produce novel utterances.’

The creativity of a user, therefore, depends on how much can be exploited from the resources of language.

Activeness of rules

In the English language, sentences are formed in certain ways and it involves knowing the rules which govern the correct usage of the language.

There are particular rules governing how words are formed (morphology) and how phrases and sentences are formed (syntax) and how such sentence structures are understood to express what we mean (semantics) and to satisfy the grammatical standard.

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What we mean is that words and sentences in the English language, especially in the aspect of grammar are not just joined together and used anyhow without considering specific order based on specific rules of the language.

When such rules are misapplied or used incorrectly, they are termed errors. One of such areas of incorrect application of the rules of language and of which this study intends to investigate is the use of passivization.

To overcome the problem that pupils encounter in the transformation of the active sentences into the passive sentences, the following syntactic rules are to be considered.

Rule 1

The subject (s) or noun phrase (NP­1) will take the position of the object (O) or noun phrase (NP2) and vice versa. For example:

Active:  Olu

Passi:  A rat _______ Olu.

Rule 2                          

If the verb occurs as the present or simple tense in the active sentence, then you will introduce the present auxiliary is/are +past participle of a main verb in the passive sentence. Consider these examples:

Active:  The boy eats rice.                                           

Passive: Rice is eaten   _____ the boy.

Rule 3

If the verb occurs as the past form in the active sentence, then you will introduce the past auxiliary verb was/were plus the past participle of a main verb in the passive sentence.  Look at the following example:

Active:  Tola killed a goat.

Passive: A goat was killed ___Tola.

Rule 4

If the verb in the active sentence occurs as the present continuous tense, then you will introduce the present auxiliary is/are + being + past participle of a main verb in the passive sentence.  Consider the following example

Active: The students are speaking the English language.

Passive: the English language is being spoken _____ the students.

Rule 5

If the verb in the active sentence occurs as the past continuous tense, then you will introduce the past auxiliary was/were + being + past participle of the main verb. Examine the following examples:

Active: Toyin was reading a novel.

Passive: A novel was being read ____ Toyin.

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Rule 6(a)

If the sentence contains the auxiliary has, have, or had in the active sentence, it will remain unchanged + been + past participle of a main verb in the passive sentence.  Consider these examples:

Active:   The team has played football.

Passive: Football has been played  ____ the team.

Rule 6(b)

Active: The students had finished their projects.

Passive: Their projects had been finished ____  the students.

Rule 7(a)

If the sentence contains any of the following modal auxiliaries: will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, must, ought, etc., in the active sentence, then it will remain unchanged + be +past participle of a main verb in the passive sentence.  Look at these examples

Active: The lecturer should mark their scripts.

Passive: Their scripts should be marked   ____ the lecturer.

Rule 7(b)

Active: I can carry a big table.

Passive: A big table can be carried  ____ me.

Rule 8

If any auxiliary takes the negative particle (not) or (don’t) in the active sentence, then it (not) will occur before the auxiliary (be) or (been) in the passive sentence.  For examples:

Active: We have not eaten the food.

Passive: The food has been eaten  ____ us.                         

Rule 9

If the pronouns are used as NPS instead of nouns both in the subject and object positions in the active sentence, then the subjective case will change to the objective case, such as he to him, they to them, she to her, etc, and vice versa in the passive sentence.  Consider the following examples:

Active: He beats her.

Passive: She is beaten ___  him.

Rule 10

If there has been a plural object in the active sentence there should be a plural subject in the passive sentence. If this occurs, the auxiliary verb that follows the subject should be plural.  Look at the examples:

Active: Bisi told them.

Passive: They are told _____  Bisi.

Rule 11

There is a line like a dash in the earlier rules before object-agents. The important word you should introduce is by which must precede the object and occur after the verb or verb phrase to replace the empty spaces above. Consider these examples:

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Active: The man will kill the snake.

Passive: The snake will be killed by the man.

Rule 12(a)

If the verb is used with or followed by a preposition in the active sentence, it should be grouped with the verb it follows in the passive sentence.  Look at these examples:

Active: Timmy is searching for a book.

Passive: A book is being searched for by Timmy.

Rule 12(b)     

 I looked upon the Lord

Passive: The Lord was looked upon by me.

Rule 13(a)

If the active sentence contains the final adverbial, it will remain in the same position as the passive sentence.  Consider the following examples:

Active: The man prayed for money fervently.

Passive: Money was prayed for by the man fervently.

Rule 13 (b)

If the adverbial follows the subject in the active sentence, it may also remain in the same position in the passive sentence.  Consider the following examples:

Active: The man recklessly drove off a lorry.

A lorry recklessly was driven off by the man.

Rule 13 (c)

Also, adverbials can occur between the auxiliary and the past participle of the main verb in a passive sentence. Consider these examples:

Active: The man recklessly drove a car.

Passive: A car was recklessly driven by the man.

Rule 14

If the adverbial precedes the subject in the active sentence, it will also occupy the same position in the passive sentence.  Look at these examples:

Active: Out of luck, the lady can’t meet up with the bus

Passive: Out of luck, the bus can’t be met up by the lady.

Rule 15 (a)

It has been said earlier that the active sentence must satisfy the (SVO) structure before it can be changed into a passive sentence.  But if the active sentence changes to the passive sentence, it will give the following structure (SVA).

Active: The boy ate rice. (SVO)

Passive: Rice was eaten by the boy. (SVA)

Rule 15 (b)

In most cases, the passive sentences may be agentless and the sentences may be SV. For examples:

Passive:           Rice was eaten. (agentless)

They were told. (agentless)

The snake will be killed. (agentless)

Author: Deola Adelakun

 

 

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