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 know the following sentence is grammatically correct. However, I was wondering if I could replace 'not to be taken' with 'not to take'?

The use of humor with aggressive actions is a way to communicate that the action was not to be taken seriously.

share|improve this question
2  
If the action is the subject, then the verb phrase has to be is not be taken; if the subject is whoever takes the action, then the verb phrase should be "not to take". The agent should be the subject of an active verb phrase, while the patient should be the subject of a passive verb phrase. –  John Lawler Apr 22 at 2:14
    
That depends. Do you want the action not to take seriously? I assume not, as it seems quite nonsensical. –  Anonym May 5 at 21:19
    
@JohnLawler Should that be posted as an answer? –  user867 May 6 at 0:22
    
Sorry, my mistake: it should read ... then the verb phrase has to be is not to be taken. –  John Lawler May 6 at 0:49

1 Answer 1

As a commenter stated, the issue with your suggested phrasing is that it makes action the agent of its clause, so by conjugating the verb as to take you are attributing it to action. Your action isn't taking, it is being taken, by the observers of said action. Accordingly, the original sentence you provided is the only correct phrasing of this meaning.

You could use your suggested phrasing by altering the sentence slightly, however:

The use of humor with aggressive actions is a way to indicate not to take them seriously.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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