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This question already has an answer here:

I know the passive structure and I know its application. But I've always noticed that a few sentences which have a structure similar to the passive, although they are not exactly passive. For example:

I met one really nice guy named Tony

according to my incomplete knowledge, I could rewrite it as

I met one really nice guy who is called (or) was named Tony

Now, I would like to know what the exact grammar point is here.

If I wanted to translate these two sentences in my own language, they would have exactly the same meaning, so do they really mean the same in English ?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, tchrist, ScotM, Edwin Ashworth, TimLymington Jul 22 '15 at 17:13

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  • They're both (is/was) perfectly valid, and commonly used. In practice, you probably wouldn't use the present tense version if neither you nor the people you're speaking to are likely to meet Tony or talk about him again after the current conversation. You wouldn't normally use was named unless you wanted to imply something unusual (for example, that you had reason to suspect Tony wasn't his real name, just a "pseudonym" adopted for the occasion). – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '15 at 17:23
  • This dog's name is Tony. Had a woman named her she likely would be named something like "Susan", but a guy named Tony. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '15 at 17:32
  • Is the question specifically 'named' vs 'is called'? Or is it about the nature of meaning and translation? If the latter, in the language with two ways, yes there is a difference (but may be negligeable), and the language with only one way, the difference (if any) may be shown by context. If the former, see the passage in Alice in Wonderland: Haddock's Eyes. The two are different, but in practice that difference is very small to nothing. – Mitch Jul 20 '15 at 17:36
  • @Mitch I felt the original title (Is it kind of passive strucure sic) was not descriptive enough, if you feel my edit caused more harm than good, then do please edit. This was the best I could come up with, taking in consideration the OP does actually ask if the two expressions mean the same. – Mari-Lou A Jul 20 '15 at 21:19
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The process of relative clause reduction removes a subject relative pronoun followed by a form of be. In earlier transformational grammar it had the cute name "whiz". So far as I know, the reduction makes no change to the meaning other than introducing some ambiguity between present and past be.

The be that is elided may be the passive be, but it needn't be. Any be is subject to deletion, though after reduction, simple adjective constructions may have to be moved to before the noun that was modified by the relative clause.

  • you answer was interesting but i am not sure that i have realized it completely , i think you are telling me that , overall this sentence is the result of reduction. am i right ? – curious dog Jul 5 '15 at 18:09
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    Yes. Reduction by deletion of "who is" (just as I think you suggested in your question). – Greg Lee Jul 5 '15 at 19:36
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In this case (but not all cases) named and called are synonymous.

I met one really nice guy who is called Tony. (correct)

I met one really nice guy who was named Tony. (wrong)

I met one really nice guy who is named Tony. (correct)

As you say, both are passive.

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    I don't really see any justification for saying named doesn't work with past tense. – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '15 at 16:34

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