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Why these sentences are not in Passive Voice?

  1. The sentences which begin with there is, there are, there was, there were, there will be
  2. The sentences which end with adjectives. e.g. Are the articles written by the chief good?
  3. The sentences which end with possessive pronouns+noun. I guess without by.
  4. The sentences which end with mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs.

I am preparing for an exam and my teacher gave me these rules. And I never met these rules on Internet before. But our government exam is mainly focused on this topic. Especially about adjectives. Example of the test:

Choose the sentences in the Passive Voice?

  1. Were your nieces invited to the party?
  2. Were your nieces invited to the party happy?
  3. Were you taught music by her?
  4. Were the pupils taught by her talented?

A)1,2
B)1,3
C)2,3,4
D)1,3,4
E)2,3

Our teacher just gave these rules without explanation. I am wondering if there is any reason for using these rules. Why we cannot begin Passive Voice with there is, there are and so on.

  • "He stole my wallet." Ends with a possessive pronoun+noun. Why would you think that is in passive voice? "I was greeted by my dog." Ends with a possessive pronoun+noun. It really is in passive voice. You need more examples. – Peter Shor Nov 10 '17 at 14:38
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    Are these statements being taught you as ways of telling if a sentence is in passive voice, or is this a question about specific sentences which you haven't copied into the question? – DJClayworth Nov 10 '17 at 14:44
  • I am preparing for an exam and my teacher gave me these rules. And I never met these rules on Internet before. But our government exam is mainly focused on this topic. Especially about adjectives. Example of the test: Choose the sentences in the Passive Voice? 1. Were your nieces invited to the party? 2. Were your nieces invited to the party happy? 3. Were you taught music by her? 4. Were the pupils taught by her talented? A)1,2 B)1,3 C)2,3,4 D)1,3,4 E)2,3 – Vuqar Eyvazov Nov 10 '17 at 14:51
  • Our teacher just gave these rules without explanation. I am wondering if there is any reason for using these rules. Why we cannot begin Passive Voice with there is, there are and so on. – Vuqar Eyvazov Nov 10 '17 at 14:57
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    I see. These rules are designed to help you answer trick questions about passive voice. It might be better to study passive voice enough so that you really understand it and can answer the trick questions without resorting to the rules. – Peter Shor Nov 10 '17 at 15:20
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Your 1) is right, though I don't think it's a very helpful way of looking at things. "There is" etc. introduce a presentational sentence, which is neither active nor passive (though I guess that traditionalists would say it was active). The main verb is a form of the copula ("be") which is also used in passive sentences, so people sometimes confuse this kind of sentence with a passive, but it is not.

The other three are quite independent of active/passive, as others have remarked. However, I note that simple examples of 2) and 4) - without relative clauses - will usually again be copular sentences, for example

The coffee is good.

The coffee is mine.

Again, these are not passive. (I would say that they were not active either: I would call them copular; but traditionalists would call them active). But again, I can imagine people whose understanding of English grammar was weak thinking they were passive because of the "is".

Passive sentences have a finite form of "be" (am/are/is/was/were/will be etc) and a past participle. The tests your teacher has given you are useless for detecting passives.

Edited: I thought the original question was about rules for sentences which were passive.

  • What, I thought the rules are about types of sentences that aren't passive. You seem to agree that sentences starting with "there is" are not passive, so I'm confused by your statement that 1) is "plain wrong" – herisson Nov 11 '17 at 0:29
  • I'm sorry, I misunderstood your original question. I thought your rules were supposed to identify sentences which were passive. I'll edit my answer. – Colin Fine Nov 11 '17 at 12:13
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The rules you are being given are wrong. With the exception of the first, I can come up with examples that match all of the critera in both the passive and active voice.

Case 2, Active voice

The chief wrote articles that were good

Case 2, Passive voice

Articles were written by the chief that were good

Case3, active voice

The thief stole my wallet

(Thanks, Peter Shor)

Case 3, passive voice

The wallet was stolen by my father

Case 4, Active voice

The wallet is mine

Case 4, passive voice

The wallet was stolen by my father, not yours

It is possible that these rules will help you pass a specific exam, but they will not help you distinguish passive from active voice in real life.

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