I understand passive sentence, e.g: The boy was bitten by a dog. But this sentence I think the verb "convinced" is a passive, but I don't understand how it works

I’m leaving this university convinced that it’s on a promising track and very much hope that it remains as fascinating and inspiring as I got to know it.

How is it ("convinced") called in English? I think naively it should be written in passive way like this

I'm leaving this university and I was convinced ....

  • There is, conceptually, not only 'active' and 'passive' but also a 'responsive' (some call it 'reflexive') state. One does not initiate the activity, nor does one do nothing at all - something happens, and one responds to that happening. This is the basis of the 'middle' voice and also of what is termed 'deponency' in other languages. 'Convinced', I would say, falls into this category. Something exists and, therefore, I am convinced. – Nigel J Jan 18 '18 at 17:30
  • I would not classify this as a passive construction; convinced is simply an adjective here, similar to happy or sad. “I was convinced by your arguments” is a passive construction, its active equivalent “Your arguments convinced me”; but many past participles can also be used as simple adjectives in constructions that we cannot really call ‘passives’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '18 at 18:00
  • @JanusBahsJacquet 'Convinced' does not describe an involuntary state, say of involuntary emotion. 'Convinced' implies cognitive activity, I would say. – Nigel J Jan 18 '18 at 20:04
  • @Nigel I would agree—but that doesn’t change its grammatical status. A state doesn’t have to be involuntary in order to be described by an adjective. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '18 at 20:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet But 'convinced' is a verb and it conveys an activity. – Nigel J Jan 18 '18 at 20:13

That's actually just a participial phrase, not an actual passive. In one if his many blog postings on the passive, linguist Geoff Pullum briefly mentions:

I have not opened up the topic of the close relation between passives and predicative adjective constructions (phrases like uninhabited are rather clearly adjectival, since there is no verb *uninhabit, yet we can say Antarctica is mostly uninhabited by humans).

Using a participial phrase as a predicate adjective is most obvious when it appears with a copula:

  • The winners are already gone.

But it can also appear to the right of the noun phrase:

  • The winners, already long gone, spared no time in celebrating their surprise victory.

That sort of participial phrase can be analysed as an instance of whiz deletion:

  • The winners, who were already long gone, spared no time in celebrating their surprise victor.

Predicate adjective phrases like these take the same past-participle inflection of the verb as one uses in passive clauses. But they are not passives for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is that they can be used with verbs that can never be passive. That last example used gone, the past participle of the intransitive verb go. So you know for certain it cannot be passive since it’s intransitive.

Another example of this uses the deponent verb to be born as an adjective phrase:

  • People who were born before 2001 they liked to call “twen-centers”.
  • People born before 2001 they liked to call “twencenters”.
  • They liked to call people born before 2001 “twencenters”.

Because you cannot invert born into something in the active, you really can’t call it passive.

A final example of these non-passive adjective phrases is:

  • It’s hard to blame kids bigoted against private teachers by years of failing to pass standard tests.

You cannot invert bigoted to say that the the years bigoted the kids, because bigot is not even a verb.

So just because you left university convinced of something doesn’t mean that convinced is a passive. It’s just an adjective (here a past participle) describing your condition, not some sort of passive.

  • Bear, bore/bare, born. How is to be born deponent rather than a passive infinitive? – KarlG Jan 18 '18 at 18:48
  • @KarlG: Well, in present-day standard written English, the past participle of the verb "to bear" has a different spelling: "borne". That might or might not be taken as evidence that it is a different word from "born". I think a more convincing argument that "to be born" is something different from a normal passive is that, in the words of the OED, "In modern use the connection with bear is no longer felt", although that's obviously a subjective piece of evidence – herisson Jan 18 '18 at 20:09
  • I’m not sure I quite agree with the bigoted example. I don’t disagree that it can easily be seen as just an adjective, but to me it sounds fairly natural to say that “Years of failing to pass standard tests bigoted her against her teachers”. Or at least, it sounds about as natural (that is, not weird, but also not entirely natural) as “[she was] bigoted against her teachers by years of failing to pass standard tests”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '18 at 20:10

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