Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have this sentence that I trying to render into passive voice:

Tom is going to school.

According to the rules described in this document (“Passive voice with direct and indirect objects”), it should be like this:

School is being gone by Tom.

I know that it is very artificial, but is this right?

share|improve this question
1  
You can't do it. If you applied the rules blindly, it would be: "School is being gone to by Tom", but it doesn't work because "to school" (as opposed to "to the school") is an expression that doesn't work in the passive. –  Peter Shor Apr 16 '13 at 11:22
1  
No, it's not right simply because nobody ever says such things. It isn't even "artificial": it's absurd. I vote to close as not constructive. –  user21497 Apr 16 '13 at 11:25
3  
Passives are created from transitive verbs, not intransitive ones. –  tchrist Apr 16 '13 at 12:18
1  
@tchrist: Is that always true? Can't you say "he fell off the supply wagon and was trodden on by a mule"? See this discussion, which calls it the "pseudo-passive" or "prepositional passive", and notes there are restrictive constraints about when it can be used. (As opposed to transitive verbs, which can usually be put into the passive.) –  Peter Shor Apr 16 '13 at 13:04
    
@PeterShor Do you not find to step on someone to be a transitive construction? The mule is doing the acting and someone is receiving that action. In contrast, when you have “the river runs down from the mountain”, there is no chance for subject–object inversion because there is no object the way there is with “the car ran over the man”. –  tchrist Apr 16 '13 at 13:21
show 1 more comment

1 Answer

I think the fact that you end up with a very unidiomatic sentence shows the value of this sort of exercise (there isn't much).

The to is a preposition which you need to retain.

Tom is going to school.
*School is being gone to by Tom.

However going to cannot be passivised like this. It just doesn't work — that's probably why it's not mentioned in your reference.

You can turn a verb like visit into a passive construction:

Tom is visiting the school.
The school is being visited by Tom.

Again, such a passive sentence would be used only rarely.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by Community Mar 26 at 11:23

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.