I am not sure how to explain these phrases to a nonspeaker of English. Have all these examples the same form?

Get (v) married (v past participle)   or it is Get(v) married (adj)  ?
Get (v) engaged (v past participle)                   engaged (adj)  ?  
Get (v) divorced (v past participle)                  divorced (adj) ?
Get (v) promoted (v past participle)                  promoted (adj) ?

Could somebody help me?

  • Thanks, but would you say that get promoted is also and adjectival passive phrase? or verbal one? Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 11:08

3 Answers 3


"Get" + "married" can be either an adjectival passive or a verbal one:

In the former, "married" is an adjective; in the latter a past participle verb.

[1] They are hoping to get married by the bishop. (verbal passive)

[2] They are getting married at the weekend. (adjectival)

In [1] the by phrase makes it clearly verbal, so "married" is a verb here. In [2] there is no explicit or implicit agent, and even though "married" (unlike "engaged"), cannot combine with "become" (*“They became married”), "married" is still an adjective here with a meaning similar to "They are marrying each other".

[3] They got engaged last month.

"Get" + "engaged" is always an adjectival passive. "Engaged" is morphologically related to the past participle verb, but its meaning has changed so it is no longer comparable to a verbal passive. Further evidence of adjectivehood comes from the fact that it can combine with “become”, as in “They became engaged last month”. Only adjectives can combine with “become”.

  • +1 but wouldn't the fact that married can't be used with become make it not an adjective? I mean I know it is, I just don't understand your logic here.
    – Mo Sanei
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 10:59
  • 2
    @MohammadSanei No, the error was elsewhere. It was supposed to say that even though "married" does not combine with "become", it is still an adjective. I've reworded it so it makes sense now. Thanks for pointing that out.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 11:57
  • I'm curious as to why "married" is not an adjective in (1).
    – Dog Lover
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 2:10

I might take the opportunity to explain participial adjectives to your student.

In English grammar, participial adjective is a traditional term for an adjective that has the same form as the participle (that is, a verb ending in -ing or -ed/-en) and that usually exhibits the ordinary properties of an adjective.


Examples provided here include:

I was alarmed by the loud bang.

I'm so excited! I'm going on holiday tomorrow!

In your case, I think that's how you would consider the word "married."

I'm getting married.

We got married.

I am married.

We are going to be married.


Here, Adjective.

Grammatically the function of 'got' in the sentence/phrase "got married" is Past participle. But we know past participle/any kind of participle functions as 'Adjective'.

'Get' sometimes can be used as Disguised form of 'To Be'. For xmple: He was married/He got married. Here, 'got'=was. Anyway,in such kind of use of 'get' in past participle the past time is mentioned. Such as: He was married last year.

Actually ('get +v3) ' is known as " participial adjective". Example : Get engaged,get married,get frustrated etc.

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