Addressing an underlying assumption in your fourth question (but with obvious overlaps to the others) I'd argue that simplistic views on what a 'direct object' should be considered as being are ill thought out and can soon lead to confusion.
In The Passive and the Notion of Transitivity
Monique De Mattia-Viviès argues that 'passivization can be better accounted for when the phenomenon of transitivity, on which it is based, is defined on semantic [rather than syntactic] grounds.'
She writes: (slightly modified, & augmented)
The passive is traditionally described as being based on the
phenomenon of syntactic transitivity. If the verb is followed by an
object complement, then the utterance can be passivized. Quirk et al.
(1985, pp. 159-171), and Huddleston & Pullum (2002, p. 1431) for
instance, underline that transitive verb sentences can be either
active or passive, that ‘Most verbs taking just one object permit
The hail damaged the car.
The car was damaged by the hail.’
They add that in addition to copula (he is at home) and intransitive
verbs (he is running), which having no object cannot take the passive,
a closed category of verbs or verbal phrases, which are most of the
time transitive verbs used statively or stative verbs, do not occur in
resemble / look like / take after someone ; suit / fit / become; have
/ possess / lack; number / hold; mean; mind; boast; befall ;fail (let
down); cost / weigh; marry / meet; agree with:
- They have a nice house.
- He lacks confidence.
- The auditorium holds 1500 people.
- The dress becomes you.
- John resembles his father.
- His son took after him.
- Will that suit you ?
- The coat does not fit you.
- This resort boasts the best beaches on the east coast.
- He weighs a lot.
- The enemy numbered over 20,000.
- Three squared equals nine.
- I don’t think they mind your criticism.
A strange adventure befell him.
He failed her. (= ‘he let her down’.)
- John married her in June.
- I met John in the street.
- Mary agreed with Paul.
These verbs can be divided into two sets: Resemble, have, mean, mind,
fit, cost, weigh, measure, lack, hold, etc. (set 1) Marry, meet (set
2) As the examples below show, these verbs permit passivization in one
of their senses, when the subject of the active is agentive or partly
agentive, i.e. when they refer to a process (set 1) and/or when they
cease to be reciprocal (set 2):
John has a book. *a book is had (by John). I’ve been had again. (They had me again.). A good time was had by all. (We all had a good
The suit fits me. *I’m fitted by this suit. I was fitted by the tailor. (The tailor fitted me.)
The car weighs two tons. *Two tons are weighed by this car. The letter was weighed by John. (John weighed the letter.)
The patio measures just 7 feet across. *Just 7 feet across is/are measured by the patio. The level of anticoagulant in the blood, which
is measured by a number called the INR, is hard to control. (A number
called INR measures the level of anticoagulant in the blood.)
This auditorium holds 500 people. *500 people are held by this auditorium. The cup was held by the winner. (The winner held the cup.)
Mary married John. *John was married by Mary. John was married by the preacher. (The preacher married John.)
Mary met John purely by chance in the street. *John was met by Mary purely by chance in the street. John was met by Mary at the station. (The meeting was scheduled.)
(John met Mary at the station.) His demands were met.
The conclusion she goes on to draw is not codifiable as a simple purely syntactically-based rule:
Conclusion: with intransitive verbs, especially when there is no cognitive presupposition, the passive is possible if the NP included
in the adjunct of the active is affected in some way, and if the
subject (which becomes the agent by-phrase) conveys a lot of
This also affects transitive verbs: the agent by-phrase, when present,
is always rhematic, and is sometimes obligatory for the sentence to be
grammatically correct, otherwise the sentence does not convey enough