This question already has an answer here:

I wrote the following sentence in my exam

The film was tried to be masked as a fictional movie.

My teacher had underlined this part of the text and told me that it was incorrect. The idea was to say that the people who made the movie had tried to make it look like a fictional movie.

Is this correct or not?

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, Edwin Ashworth, RegDwigнt Apr 28 '15 at 10:45

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 3
    Your teacher was right. The meaning is not clear from what you have written. I would suggest The producers had tried to mask the film as fictional. – WS2 Apr 28 '15 at 7:06
  • The passive isn't available for all verbs / verb constructions. An attempt was made to be pass the film off as a fictional movie. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '15 at 9:11
  • It might be worth noting that the unvailable passive-of-attempt construction is perfectly valid in some other languages. Norwegian, however, can go "Fjellet ble forsøkt besteget" -- literally "the mountain was attempted to be climbed", which is what wannabe translators accordingly write. And so they try to do this in English, too. – David Pugh Apr 28 '15 at 9:54
  • 1
    “The film was a roman a clef.” – Oldbag Apr 28 '15 at 13:36

The active voice

The film producers tried to mask the film as fictional

They tried to convince cinemagoers that the film was fictional but evidently failed. Nobody was fooled by the ruse.

The passive voice

The film was masked as fictional [by the film producers] but the ploy didn't fool anybody.


This doesn't sound right:

  • The film was tried to be masked

Strange passive. This is a wrong passive of "try."

Imagine the comparable:

  • I was tried to be washed

Can you make sense of it?

Now, this would have worked for you:

  • The film was tried [out] [with an audience], masked as a fictional movie.

This is a good one:

  • He was tried for murder.

but surely this is another meaning of "try."


  • The people who made the movie had tried to make it look like a fictional movie.

This is reasonable.

Now, perhaps you had "try out" in your mind, which can be used about movies:

A History of Broadcasting in the United States: The image ... - Page 166 Erik Barnouw - 1970

The film was tried out in California, and seemed so effective that Carroll Newton scheduled it for the final Sunday of the campaign, immediately after the Ed Sullivan program on CBS-TV.

  • In my opinion they both sound okay. The message in your example is strange, though. Someone tried to wash you? At least that's how I understand it. – MikkoP Apr 28 '15 at 7:04
  • 2
    to try out something is not the same as ‘to try’ to do something, it has a completely different meaning from the OP's original sentence. – Mari-Lou A Apr 28 '15 at 7:41

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