Take the medicine as prescribed. As there is no verb to be in this sentence, is it passive because it is implied? ..i.e., Take the medicine as (it was) prescribed.?


The main clause is take the medicine..., which is active, because its main verb is active, take. Because the main clause is active, the sentence is active.

The past participle prescribed is passive. You can read it as an elliptical clause, as it was prescribed, or as a mere participial construction; in either case, it's passive, but the sentence as a whole is still active as above. The verb to be is not what would make it passive: the passivity is located in the past participle. It just so happens that past participles are often combined with to be.

  • The past participle of some intransitive verbs of motion may be employed as active perfective adjectives or nominals: a widely traveled woman, the just-arrived train, the departed. – StoneyB May 29 '13 at 11:57
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    Yes, the passive construction takes an auxiliary be, and so do predicate adjectives formed from perfect participles, so the test usually is the grammaticality of an agent by-phrase. In the case of the OQ, the idiom is as prescribed (by indef doctor); i.e, as prescribed_and _as prescribed by a/your/the doctor are both grammatical and synonymous, so it is in fact a reduced passive clause. Participial and infinitive phrases are reduced clauses. – John Lawler May 29 '13 at 15:06
  • @StoneyB: Right, not all past participles are inherently passive, and not even the ones that are passive necessarily result in a passive clause, if the main verb isn't a form of be, as in I have prescribed. – Cerberus May 29 '13 at 17:20

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