Мегаобучалка Главная | О нас | Обратная связь  

The formation and use of the passive voice. Uses of the passive voice peculiar to the English language

The passive voice, which is composed of the auxiliary verb to be and participle II. Thus the passive verb forms are analytical, the tense of the auxiliary verb to be varies according to the sense. The notional verb (participle II) remains unchanged and provides the whole analytical form with its passive meaning.

The passive voice is widely used in English. It is used alongside the active voice in written and spoken English. Passive constructions are often used instead of active constructions in sentences beginning with an indefinite pronoun, a noun or a pronoun of indefinite reference.


Somebody left the dog in the garden. Has anybody answered your questions? People will laugh at you for your trouble. They told me to go away. = The dog was left in the garden. = Have your questions been answered? = You will be laughed at for your trouble. = I was told to go away.


It is evident that in the process of speech passive constructions arise naturally, not as a result of conversion from the active into the passive.

A passive construction is preferable in case when the speaker is interested in what happens to the person or thing denoted by the subject. The verb or the whole verb phrase is thus made more prominent. The agent or the source of the action is not mentioned at all, either because it is unknown or because it is of no particular importance in the utterance, or else it is evident from the context or the situation. The predicate verb with its modifiers contains a new and most important item of information and is of great communicative value.


We were brought up together.

I am always being contradicted.

Thank you for your help, but it is no longer required.

You will be met as you leave the airport, and you will be given another ticket.

In silence the soup was finished - excellent, if a little thick; and fish was brought. In silence it was



There are a number of conventional expressions where the passive voice is constantly used.


The novel was published in 1929.

Shakespeare was born in 1564.


(з лекції) The Passive is used when:

the action is more important than the person who done it;

the doer of the action is obvious;

when we do not know and have forgotten who did the action

is used to avoid awkward situations for psychological reasons

when the speaker knows who performed but for the reasons doesn’t mention the doer of the action

30. Morphological features and semantics of the modal verb CAN


This modal verb has two forms: can - for the present tense and could - for the past tense and for the subjunctive mood.


I can’t dance now but I could when I was young.

I wish I could go with you.


I. Can followed by the non-perfect common aspect infinitive expresses:


1. Physical and mental ability or capacity.


The notion of ability is also expressed by “to be able to”.

Mary can speak English quite well but she can’t write it at all (can = to be able, to know how to...).

John can keep a secret if he wants to (can = to be capable of).

The meaning of ability is expressed only by “to be able to” when the reference is to the future, as can, having no infinitive, has no future tense form.


Soon he will be able to speak English quite fluently.


Can is interchangeable with to be able to when it denotes mere capacity,


I couldn’t/was not able to do that new job; it was too difficult.

This man could/was able to cure all diseases.


But only to be able to is used to express attainment or achievement of something through some capacity. Thus to be able to often combines the idea of “ability” and “achievement”. In this case was able to means “managed to” or “succeeded in”, and could is impossible.


The fire brigade was able (succeeded in putting, managed) to put out the fire before it destroyed the other

buildings. Пожарные су­мели, им удалось ...

2. Possibility.


a) possibility due to circumstances:


Anybody can make a mistake. Ошибаться может каждый.


b) possibility due to the existing rules of laws:


In old days a man could be sentenced to death for a small crime. В старые времена можно было

приговорить человека к смерти за небольшое преступление.


c) possibility of the idea (the so-called “theoretical” possibility):


The railways can be improved. (It is possible for the railways to be improved, as they are not yet



In general statements of possibility can has roughly the same meaning as “sometimes”.


The sea can be rough. = The sea is sometimes rough. Mope иногда бывает бурным.


Can is generally used in questions about possibility and in statements about impossibility.


Can this be true? (Is it possible that this is true?) Неужели это правда?


3. Permission.


Can we go home, Miss? Можно идти домой, мисс?


4. Prohibition (it is found only with the negative form of the modal verb, as prohibition may be understood as the negation of permission - not to be allowed to...). It corresponds to the Russian нельзя, не надо.


You can’t cross the street here. Здесь нельзя переходить улицу.

5. Request.


Can you hold on a minute, please?


II. Can followed by any form of the infinitive may express:


1. Strong doubt, improbability, incredulity.This meaning occurs only with the negative form of the modal verb + perfect infinitive, continuous infinitive, or be.


He can’t be working at this time (it’s impossible that he is working...) - He может быть, чтобы он работал сейчас.


Could is used instead of can to express greater doubt. Thus the difference between can and could is in the degree of expressiveness, could showing a greater degree of doubt or incredulity. The time-reference is indicated not by the form of the verb but by that of the infinitive.


He Can’t Couldn’t be so old. - He может быть, что он так стар.  


2. Surprise, when can/could is used in questions. It corresponds to the Russian неужели ...


Can it be so late as all that? Неужели уже так поздно?


То refer the action to the past a perfect infinitive is used.


Could he have known her before? Неужели он знал ее раньше?

The verb can expressing surprise is not used in the negative form.


Therefore the Russian negative questions of the type - нeyжeли он не ... is translated into English in different ways:


a) by complex sentences:


Can if be that you haven’t seen him?

Неужели вы не видели его?


b) by different lexical means:


Can you have failedto see him?

Неужели вы не видели его?


3. Reproach, implying that a person should have done something, or behaved in a certain way, but didn’t do it. This meaning is found only with the form could.


You could at least have met me at the station, couldn’t you?


In this sense could is interchangeable with might.


4. Purpose. This meaning occurs only with the form could in clauses of purpose.

I wrote down the telephone number so that I could remember it.

set expressions with the modal verb can:

Cannot/can’t help doing smth. - He могу не делать что-то
When I saw him I couldn’t help laughing. - Когда я увидел его, я не мог не засмеяться.

Cannot/can’t but do smth. - не могу не ...
I cannot but suggest... - Я не могу не предложить ...
We cannot but hope he is right. - Нам остается только надеяться, что... (не можем не надеяться...)

One cannot but wonder - нельзя не задуматься
as can be - an intensifying expression
They are as pleased as can be. - Они очень (страшно) довольны.
It’s as ugly as can be. - Это необычайно уродливо (трудно себе представить что-либо более

31. This modal verb has two forms: mayfor the present tense and might for the past and as the subjunctive mood form. Thus the form might is used:

a) in indirect speech according to the rules of the sequence of tenses (though the verb could is preferable in this case).

b) in some syntactical patterns requiring the subjunctive mood forms:

I. May followed by the non-perfect common infinitive expresses:

1. Permission. In this usage it expresses the meaning to have permis­sion to, to be allowed to, to be permitted to.

In polite requests for permission might is used.

Can is now more common than may or might to express informally the idea of permission, but may is often used when talking of ourselves.

When the action was permitted and performed the expression was allowed to is preferable.

When translating the story we were allowed to use a dictionary, so I took a Longman new dictionary.

2. Possibility of the fact (the so-called “factual possibility”).This meaning occurs only in affirmative sentences.

The above sentence could suggest that there are definite plans for improvement.

3. Prohibition(only with the negative form of the modal verb).

The contracted form mayn’t is also very rare.There are other ways of expressing the idea of prohibition which are more common. They are mustn’t, can’t, and don’t. Mustn’t and can’t are often found in negative answers to express prohibition instead of may not.

II. May (might) followed by any form of the infinitive denotes:

1. Supposition, uncertainty. May in this sense is synonymous with perhaps or maybe, and occurs in affirmative and negative statements.

The non-perfect infinitive indicates reference to the present or fu­ture, that is, it expresses suppositionor uncertainty about a present or future action.

The perfect infinitive indicates reference to the past.

May (might) in the sense of supposition or uncertainty is not used in questions, instead some other means are used: Is it (he) likely ... ? or Do you think ... ?

Note:   The difference between the meaning of the negative forms of can and may:
He may not be ill.= It is possible that he isn’t ill. He may not be working. = It is possible that he isn’t working. He can’t be ill. = It is not possible that he is ill. He can’t be working. = It is impossible that he is working.

Can + negation in these sentences denotes doubt, incredulity on the part of the speaker, whereas may expresses uncertainty about a negation of some fact.

2. Reproach. This meaning is found only in positive statements and only with the form might as it is a reproach made about something that has not been done and thus implies some unfulfilled action.

In combination with the perfect infinitive it renders irritation (annoyance)that the action was not carried out.

3. May/might partly loses its meaning when used in certain sentence patterns and is in such cases a quasi-subjunctive auxiliary (see § 80):

a) in clauses of purpose:

b) in clauses of concession:

c) in object, predicative and appositive clauses after verbs or nouns expressing hope, wish, fear:

Here are some expressions with the modal verb may/might:

I may/might as well + infinitive — is a very mild and unemphatic way of expressing an intention.

It can be used with other persons to suggest or recommend an action.

Might just as well means “it would be equally good to” and is used to suggest alternative actions. Though the meaning is basically the same as in three previous sentences, “just” makes the sentence more emphatic.


32. .The modal verb must has only one form for the present tense. It may also be used in reported speech, after the verb in the past tense in the principal clause.

I. Must followed by the non-perfect common infinitive may express:

1. Immediate obligation or necessity, or an obligation referring to the future. This meaning occurs in positive statements and questions.

Must expresses obligation or compulsion from the speaker’s viewpoint (unlike ‘have to’, which involves some other authority than the speaker, such as official regulations, etc.).

Obligations expressed by must refer to the present or future, in reported speech they may refer to the past.

Future obligations can be made more precise with the future indefinite of the verb have to.

Since the negative form of must denotes a negative obligation or sometimes prohibition (sec item 2), it cannot express absence of necessity which is expressed by needn’t.

Must is used interchangeably with to be to for instructions, notices, or orders.

2. Prohibition. Such sentences are sometimes negative commands, corresponding to the Russian sentences with нельзя, не разрешается

II. When combined with any form of the infinitive must expresses probability, near certainty. It has the same meaning as the modal words probably, evidently. In this sense must occurs only in positive statements and corresponds to the Russian modal words вероятно, должно быть.

With verbs which admit of the continuous aspect, the continuous infinitive should be used for reference to the present.

Must expressing probability is not used:

a) with reference to the future. Instead of the modal verb the adverbs probably and evidently are used.

b) in negative and interrogative forms. There are several ways of expressing the negative meaning of probability in such sentences: by negative affixes, or negative pronouns, or lexically.

Besides the above mentioned shades of meaning, sometimes accompanied by emphasis, the modal verb must may be used solely for the sake of emphasis. In this case must is not translated into Russian, it merely emphasises some action or idea.

33. The modal verbought has only one form. It is not changed in reported speech.

Ought combines with the to-infinitive. When followed by the non-perfect or continuous infinitive it indicates reference to the present or future. In indirect speech it may also refer the action to the past.

Ought expresses:

1. Moral duty, moral obligation (which is not always fulfilled). It corresponds to the Russian следует.

When used withthe perfect infinitive ought means that something right has not been done, a desirable action has not been carried out, and it, therefore, implies reproach.

Ought not + perfect infinitive means that something wrong has been done and it is now too late to change it. It may also be viewed as a reproach.

2.Advisability (which is sometimes understood as desirability).

3.Probability, something that can be naturally expected. It corresponds to the Russian должно быть, наверное.

In this sense ought is a weaker equivalent of must when the latter denotes near certainty.

Ought to + infinitive is used whendescribing something exciting, funny or beautiful in the meaning of I wish you could.

You ought to hear the way he plays the piano!

Historicallyshould was the past form of shall and both the forms expressed obligation. But in present-day English they have developed different meanings and are treated as two different verbs.

Should followed by the non-perfect infinitive may be used with reference to the present and future and is not changed in reported speech.

Should is nearly always interchangeable with ought to, as their meanings coincide.

It expresses:

1.Moral obligation, moral duty, which may not be fulfilled. Should is found in this sense in all kinds of sentences.

When combined withthe perfect infinitive should denotescriticism, faultfinding; the statement indicates that something desirable has not been done.

2.Advice, desirability. This meaning is more common with ought to than with should.

As is seen from the above examples, it is sometimes difficultto discriminate between the first and the second meaning.

3.Probability, something naturally expected (only with reference to the present or future).

34.As a modal verb to have to differs from the others in that it is not defective. It can have the category of person and number and all tense-aspect forms, as well as verbals. It is followed by a to-infinitive and combines only with the non-perfect form of it.

Have to builds up its interrogative and negative forms with the help of the auxiliary verb to do.

The modal verb to have to expresses:

I. Obligation or necessity arising out of circumstances. It is similar in its meaning to must (1). It corresponds to the Russian приходится, вынужден.


Have to replaces must where must cannot be used: a) to express past necessity or obligation, b) to express absence of necessity (in the sense of needn’t), since must not means prohibition, and c) to express a future obligation, since the future tense of the verb have to makes the obligation more precise.

a) We had to do it again.

They had to do what they were told.

b) You don’t have to make another copy of the document, Miss Black; this copy will be quite satisfactory.

c) You’ll have to take a taxi if you mean to catch the train.Have to as a modal verb can be used together with the modal verb may:

We may have to wait long here. - Нам возможно придется долго здесь ждать.

Have got to has the same basic meaning as have to. The difference lies in that have to usually denotes a habitual action and have got to denotes a particular action.

To be toas a modal verb is used in the present and past indefinite tenses.

To be to expresses:

1. An obligation arising out of an arrangement or plan. It is found in statements and questions.

The last two sentences in which to be is in the past indefinite do not indicate whether the action did or did not take place.

On the other hand this form is the only way to indicate a fulfilled action in the past.

To emphasize that the action did not take place the perfect infinitive is used after the past indefinite of the verb to be to.

2.A strict order or an instruction given either by the speaker or (more usually) by some official authority.

Note the difference betweento be to andto have to:

Soldiers have to salute their officers (such is customary obligation, the general rule).

All junior officers are to report to the colonel at once (an order).

3.Strict prohibition (only in the negative form).

4.Something that is destined to happen or is unavoidable. It corresponds to the Russian суждено, предстоит.

5.Impossibility. In negative sentences or in sentences containing words with negative meaning the verb to be to implies impossibility. In this case the passive form of the non-perfect infinitive is used, unless it is a question beginning with the interrogative adverbs how, where.

Here are some set expressions with the verb to be to:

What am I to do? Что мне делать? Как мне быть?

What is to become of me? Что со мною станется (будет)?

Where am I to go? Куда же мне деваться?


The modal verbdare may be defective or regular.

As a defective verb dare has two forms: dare for the present tense and dared for the past tense. It is used chiefly in interrogative and negative sentences. It has the meaning - to have the courage or independence to do something, to venture.

As a regular verb dare has a limited paradigm of finite forms and no verbals. It may have two meanings:

1.To venture, to have the courage or impudence (like the defective dare). In this sense it is used mainly in negative statements.

Note the following combinations with the modal verb dare.

I dare say— I suppose, no doubt.

I dare say you are right. - Очень возможно, что вы правы.

I dare sayhe will come later. - Полагаю (пожалуй), он придет позже.

The modal verbneed may be either a defective or a regular verb. As a defective verb need has only one form and combines with a bare infinitive. In reported speech it remains unchanged. As a regular verb it has the past indefinite form needed and regular negative and interrogative forms.

There is a slight difference in the usage of regular and irregular forms. The regular form is used mainly when the following infinitive denotes habitual action. The defective form is more common when one particular occasion is referred to:

The defective form is mainly restricted to negative and interrogative sentences, whereas the regular verb can be used in all types of sentences and is therefore more common.

Need expressesnecessity. It is mainly used in questions and negative statements, where it is a replacement for must or for have (got) to.

The negation is not always combined with the verb, but may be expressed by other parts of the sentence.

In questions need is used when there is a strong element of negation or doubt or when the speaker expects a negative answer.

In negative statements need followed by aperfect infinitive indicates that the action expressed by the infinitive was performed but was not necessary. It implies a waste of time or effort, and is therefore translated by зря, незачем, не к чему было.

The difference between the two forms of need in negative sentences is as follows: the regular verb indicates that the action was not done because it was unnecessary, whereas the defective verb shows that the action, although unnecessary, was carried out. Compare the following examples:

Didn’t need to do smth = It wasn’t necessary, so probably not done.

We didn’t need to say anything at all, which was a great comfort.

She didn’t need to open the drawer because it was already open.

Needn’t have done smth. = It was not necessary, but done nonetheless.

You needn’t have said anything. Then he would never have known about it.

She needn’t have opened the drawer. She found it empty when she did.


The Imperative Mood expresses a command or a request. In Modern English the Imperative Mood has only one form which coincides with the infinitive without the particle to; it is used in the second person (singular and plural).

Be quiet and hear what I tell you.

In forming the negative the auxiliary verb to do is always used, even with the verb to be.

Hush! Don't make a noise!

Don't be angry...

The auxiliary verb to do may also be used in affirmative sen­tences to make the request more emphatic (виразнy).

But now, do sing again to us.

To make a request or an order more emphatic the subject expressed by the pronoun you is sometimes used. It is character­istic of colloquial speech. I'll drive and yousleep awhile.

Note. - A command addressed to the third person singular and plural is usually expressed with the help of the verb to let. Letthe child go home at once. Пусть ребенок сейчас же идет домой. Let the children go home at once. Пусть дети сейчас же идут домой.

With the first person plural the verb to let is used to express an exhortation(умовляння) to a joint action. Let's go and have some fresh coffee. Пойдемте выпьем свежего кофе.



Subjunctive Mood

The Subjunctive Mood shows that the action or state expressed by the verb is presented as a non-fact, as something imaginary or desired. The Subjunctive Mood is also used to express an emotional attitude of the speaker to real facts.

In Modern English the Subjunctive Mood has synthetic and analytical forms.

“I wish I were ten years older," I said. «Хотел бы я быть на десять лет старше», — сказал я.

I wish you would speak rationally. Я хотел бы, чтобы вы говорили разумно.

In simple sentences the synthetic forms of the Subjunctive Mood are more frequent than the analytical forms. In simple sentences the Subjunctive Mood is used:

(1)to express wish (пожелание):

Long live the Soviet Army! Да здравствует Советская Армия!

Success attend you! Да сопутствует вам успех!

То express wish the analytical subjunctive with the mood auxil­iary may is also used.

May success attend you! Да сопутствует вам успех!

May you live long and die happy! Желаю вам долго жить и быть счастливым до конца своих дней.

(2) to express an unreal wish:

If only he were free! Если бы только он был свободен!

(3) in oaths and imprecations:

Manners be hanged! К черту всякие церемонии!

Confound these flies! Будь они прокляты, эти мухи!

(4)in some expressions:

Suffice it to say that... Beit so! God forbid! Far beit from me...

The Subjunctive Mood in simple sentences is characteristic of

literary style, except in oaths and imprecations, which belong to
low colloquial style.


Читайте также:
Почему человек чувствует себя несчастным?: Для начала определим, что такое несчастье. Несчастьем мы будем считать психологическое состояние...
Организация как механизм и форма жизни коллектива: Организация не сможет достичь поставленных целей без соответствующей внутренней...
Как построить свою речь (словесное оформление): При подготовке публичного выступления перед оратором возникает вопрос, как лучше словесно оформить свою...

©2015-2020 megaobuchalka.ru Все материалы представленные на сайте исключительно с целью ознакомления читателями и не преследуют коммерческих целей или нарушение авторских прав. (831)

Почему 1285321 студент выбрали МегаОбучалку...

Система поиска информации

Мобильная версия сайта

Удобная навигация

Нет шокирующей рекламы

(0.067 сек.)