What is the right verb for manipulation in the passive sense? Do people get manipulated? Do they become manipulated? Or do they simply are manipulated.


They intended to manipulate her into doing the job. For that purpose they showed her the clip. And after watching the clip, she got/became/was/etc manipulated.

It seems to me that the passive sense involve can be capture only by "get". However, "is manipulated" is way more popular. Source

  • 2
    'She was manipulated' is not incorrect, but doesn't sound good here. Your example is possibly too punctive (cf 'On Thursday, after tea, she was manipulated.') I wouldn't use any other verb (though 'get' is probably more acceptable in the US here than in the UK). Jul 29, 2017 at 14:42
  • 1
    I think metaphorical past tense manipulated is essentially "verby" - it doesn't work well adjectivally. The despot is popular with manipulated voters sounds rather "odd" to me by comparison with, say, The despot is popular with voters who have been manipulated. Jul 29, 2017 at 15:33
  • 2
    I think the repetition of manipulate/manipulated is a little clumsy. Could you reword it somehow? Jul 29, 2017 at 15:41
  • And after watching the clip, the manipulation was complete. i.e., they manipulated her by showing the clip to her.
    – Jim
    Jul 29, 2017 at 20:22
  • 1
    She fell victim to their scheme.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jul 29, 2017 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


The passive form of manipulated requires that some successful manipulation has taken place, and this requires some time. A person can be tricked into something right away. They can be browbeaten or coerced over a short time. However, manipulation is something that typically takes place over an extended period of time, as the victim acts on what they think is their own volition, whereas in fact their perception of events has been altered by the manipulator.

For example, if you allow some time to pass between your description of the manipulator and your reference to the victim being manipulated, or convey this in the context, the passive form will come more naturally:

... they showed her the clip. The next day they told her of her husband's infidelity. She signed the papers. She had been thoroughly manipulated.

... they showed her the clip. She was as easily manipulated as her sister would be a year later.

... they showed her the clip. Up till now they had seemed like friends. Her brother had urged her to trust them, in that final recording he had left. How could she avoid getting manipulated?

All of your alternatives are passable, but not in the way that you have presented your example.

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