You may have heard A Song They Won't Be Playing On The Radio by Molly Nilsson. I doubt this song will ever be considered the pinnacle of the English poetry, but it makes use of a passive simple (rather than the passive continuous) infinitive in object+bare infinitive complementation.

Now, what would be your thoughts on the following:

  • I heard the tea be served.
  • I saw him be beaten.
  • I noticed him be administered the painkiller.
  • We observed her be instructed.
  • I watched them be fed.
  • We had him be admitted to the hospital.
  • She let us be taken photos of.
  • We made him be regarded as an expert.
  • I have known John be accepted there regularly.
  • She helped you be taken to the hospital.

I understand that the continuous I saw him (being) beaten would be much more common.

  • 2
    If you are a lyricist, poet, screen writer and novelist, you can write whatever you want as you please. Whether it would be accepted and understood by people will entirely depend on how you write it. Those constructions are not broadly used, but not difficult to understand. You can never apply grammatical rules to lyrics, poems, or any other creative writing.
    – user140086
    Mar 14, 2016 at 18:46
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because artistic license trumps rules of grammar
    – ab2
    Mar 15, 2016 at 0:40
  • Rathony, are you saying that any Chinese peasant may simply jumble up a bunch of English words and you would consider it as "English poetry" ? Or course grammatical rules do apply in case of real poetry too.
    – Russ80
    Mar 15, 2016 at 4:09
  • Hi, Russ80. You need to put "@" before a user name to ping me. Yes, any Chinese, Russian or Belgian peasant can jumble up a bunch of English words and claim it is an English poem. Readers will judge whether it is pure crap or something worth reading. Look at all the rap songs with broken English. Some people like them and pay money to listen to them. Whether people will like that poem will entirely depend on how it is written.
    – user140086
    Mar 15, 2016 at 5:27
  • @Rathony If the Chinese readers are going to judge the quality of the contemporary English poetry, the Russian are going to disagree with them. They will argue that it is the prerogative of the Russian users of English to judge what is crap and what is not.
    – Russ80
    Mar 15, 2016 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


I am not sure what you mean by "what would be your thoughts on the following", but if you are interested in my opinion on those sentences, it would be this:

This is an instance in which the "normal" or even "proper" grammar of English is altered for the use of modern art, it does not have very much implication on English language as a whole, since most people understand that this is an altered version of the grammar.

The proper version of the grammar would be as you have recognized.

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