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?

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    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. Apr 16, 2013 at 11:22
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    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, 2013 at 11:25
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    Passives are created from transitive verbs, not intransitive ones.
    – tchrist
    Apr 16, 2013 at 12:18
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    @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.) Apr 16, 2013 at 13:04
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    @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, 2013 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


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. Go is intransitive and it just doesn't work — that's probably why it's not mentioned in your reference.

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

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

Again, although it is grammatical, such a passive sentence would be used only rarely.

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