0

I'm trying to convert the following sentence from the active voice to passive. It has two verbs, and I don't know how to link all parts.

A recent study found that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of intimacy.

What I've tried is:

  • Posting photos of oneself was found by a recent study.

I don't know how I could link the last part.

Any help? Thanks a lot

  • How about Posting photos of oneself correlating with lower levels of intimacy was found by a recent study? – MusicLovingIndianGirl Jun 21 '16 at 12:32
  • @MusicLovingIndianGirl That won't work. See my answer below for more on why it won't :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 21 '16 at 12:42
1

A recent study found that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of intimacy.

This sentence has a declarative content clause as the Complement of the verb find:

  • that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of intimacy.

In English we do not like to use declarative content clauses as Subjects. They usually sound awkward and sometimes will be regarded as ungrammatical. If we use a normal passive construction here and make the content clause the Subject of the new sentence it will sound ungrammatical:

  • *[That posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of intimacy] was found.

This is not a good result. We find sentences like this at best awkward and difficult to process and, at worst, ungrammatical. What we usually do when we want to make a sentence like this is to use an extraposition construction. We use a dummy auxiliary it as the Subject of the passive clause, and put the content clause at the end of the matrix clause, where it functions as an Extraposed Subject:

  • It was found [that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of intimacy].

The Subject of the passive sentence above is the word it. The Extraposed Subject, in brackets, is not technically a Subject at all. This clause is functioning as a Complement of the verb find. The term Extraposed Subject therefore should be understood as being a special type of Complement of the verb.

The sentence above is a passive, but whether we should understand it as a passivisation of the Original Poster's sentence is debatable. However, it seems to be the only option here, unless, as suggested by Gary in the comments below, we dismantle the content clause.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot. Excellent answer and explanation. Its very usefull – GmloMalo Jun 21 '16 at 12:46
  • 1
    Is it worth examining "Posting photos of oneself was found [by a recent study] to correlate with lower levels of intimacy" ? That matches OP's partial attempt, casts the matrix verb in the passive voice, and avoids the complications of cleft structures and dislocations. Unfortunately, it also divides the original argument of the matrix verb into pieces which no longer form a subordinate clause. – Gary Botnovcan Jun 21 '16 at 13:01
  • @GaryBotnovcan It is indeed. That's probably worth an answer (nudge, nudge). If we're willing to just make the NP the subject as opposed to keeping the clause in tact, then that would be an elegant solution, it seems to me. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 21 '16 at 13:42
  • Should know be find? – deadrat Jun 21 '16 at 17:19
  • 1
    The problem with the question is that it makes a false presupposition -- that every sentence can be "converted from active to passive", never mind what kind of sentence it is. As @Araucaria very gently pointed out, his correct sentence might not be what that particular teacher had in mind, since there is no single way to "convert from active to passive", and teachers are wont to insist that their way is the right way, never mind the facts. – John Lawler Jun 21 '16 at 22:45
0

The verb "to find" can be either simply or complexly transitive.  That is to say, in the active voice, it can take a direct object as its sole argument or it can take a pair of arguments, that pair being an object and its complement. 

The original sentence has a simply transitive "found".  The direct object is a content clause. 

Araucaria's response correctly claims that, at least in this case, the entire content clause is a poor choice for the subject of our intended passive voice construction.  The cleft structure proposed in that answer is a sensible alternative. 
 

However, extraposition is not the only option.  "To find" can also be complexly transitive.  The content clause can be split into two distinct arguments: 

A recent study found [the practice of]* posting photos of oneself to correlate with lower levels of intimacy. 

Here, the subject remains "a recent study", the verb remains "found", the object is the gerund phrase "posting photos of oneself" and the complement is the infinitive phrase "to correlate with lower levels of intimacy".  Having split the subordinate clause into an object/complement pairing, we can now use the direct object of the active voice statement as the subject of a passive voice construction, leaving its complement in the predicate: 

Posting photos of oneself was found [by/in a recent study] to correlate with lower levels of intimacy. 

 
So, that's how you can link the last part.  You allow the complement to stand as an argument of the passive verb. 

From the perspective of your partial attempt, you extracted only a part of the active-voice verb's direct object -- the subject of the subordinate clause.  What remained was a predicate.

As a predicate, "correlates with lower levels of intimacy" demands a subject.  No such subject is available, since its original subject now belongs to the verb "was found".  The reason that it demands a subject is that the verb form is finite -- it has a tense.  Non-finite verb forms, in contrast, do not form predicates and do not require subjects. 

The way to reattach this lonely predicate is to change its verb to a non-finite form, such as an infinitive, a gerund, or a participle.  The resulting infinitive phrase "to correlate with lower levels of intimacy" can then serve as an argument of the passive-voice "was found". 
 

_______________ 

* A gerund in this position is grammatically sound but potentially difficult to parse.  Adding a common noun in this manner prevents garden-path readings.  I do not mean to imply the existence of something like a null-headed noun phrase. 

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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