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"they awoke on hearing a strange noise"

closed as off-topic by David, JJJ, Robusto, Jim, tchrist Jun 15 at 2:31

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    They were woken by a strange noise. – FumbleFingers Jun 14 at 17:31
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    Is this homework by any chance? If so you are asking us to help you cheat. If not I advise you to avoid the passive voice when the active voice is clearly adequate, and, in my opinion, better. – David Jun 14 at 18:55
  • Depends on the circumstances of the text. If it is a formal text, then using the passive voice can increase the sense of formality. Also, if the OP has already written a lot of their text in the active voice, they might just want to switch it up for variety's sake (or at least know how to). @David – A. Kvåle Jun 14 at 20:50
  • @A.Kvåle — Of course, there are times when the passive is to be preferred. When I write a scientific paper it avoids the repetition of I or We, which can sound too self-important. But this just sounds like an English exercise or a misguided attempt to sound formal. – David Jun 14 at 22:07
  • You can't awake somebody; you can only wake them. – tchrist Jun 15 at 2:30
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Any answer to this question about the usage of

awoke

As in:

"They awoke on hearing a strange noise"

in its conversion to passive voice will be tricky.

As has been pointed out, passive transform lends itself best to transitive verbs. However, these different forms of the same verb have a history.

For example...Collins On-line describes "awoke" as both transitive, and intransitive.

BrE. a past tense or (now rare or dialectal) past participle of awake

and

AmE. verb transitive, verb intransitive pt. of awake

There is a lot of confusion about these verbs.

At this point in time, our evidence shows that the most common inflections of awake are awoke in the simple past ("he awoke") and awoken as the past participle ("she was awoken"). The most common inflections of awaken continue to be awakened in the past ("he awakened") and awakened as the past participle ("she was awakened").

It helps if you remember that awaken and awake are different verbs, and that awakened is regular. Maybe just don't think about it too hard when you first wake up.

-Merriam Webster

In summary: Awake and awaken are two distinct verbs that mean the same thing. The verb forms for awake are irregular, but the most common choices are awake, awoke, and was awoken. The verb forms for awaken are regular: awakens, awakened, was awakened.

: to arouse from sleep or a sleeplike state

He was awoken by the storm.

As John Lawler said in a comment:

In a word, Don't. There are four verbs: wake, the adjective awake, which can be used as a verb, the causative waken meaning 'cause to wake', and the causative awaken meaning 'become (or cause to become) awake'. The first two verbs are deponent; there is disagreement on the form of the past participle of wake -- woke, woken, waked, waken, and what have you. So mostly people avoid the perfect and passive with these verbs because nothing sounds right.

In general...

"en" with a verb indicates "cause, or make so"

"a" is more or less "to become" .

Since both verbs are accepted, I agree with John, except I would also accept "awoken" as the PP.

In other words...

"They were awoken upon hearing strange noises."

But the verb does not actually lend itself well to passive transform.

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Upon hearing a strange noise, they were awakened

  • Thank you very much ! – Susanthika Wanasinghe Jun 14 at 17:24
  • Erm...wrong verb...although they pretty much mean the same thing – Cascabel Jun 14 at 17:44
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    In a word, Don't. There are four verbs: wake, the adjective awake, which can be used as a verb, the causative waken meaning 'cause to wake', and the causative awaken meaning 'become (or cause to become) awake'. The first two verbs are deponent; there is disagreement on the form of the past participle of wake -- woke, woken, waked, waken, and what have you. So mostly people avoid the perfect and passive with these verbs because nothing sounds wright. – John Lawler Jun 14 at 19:46
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To have some fun with the exercise of converting an active verb to passive, it's best to start with a transitive verb. A transitive verb takes a direct object. Examples of sentences with verb-object: She saw the crime. I will ask a question. She's making a cake. We can now do the fun conversion to passive, where we flip our point of view and focus on the object: The crime was seen (by her). A question will be asked (by me). A cake is being made (by her).

Examples of sentences that don't have a direct object: I like to read. I'm cooking. She can't see. These don't work for conversion to passive. There's nothing to grab hold of to do the flip with.

"They awoke" has exactly that problem. The only way to make a passive version is to use a slightly different formulation, as suggested by Will.

  • OK...I understand about the suggestion for a transitive verb, but what is wrong with "awoken"? ie "They were awoken" as suggested by M-W – Cascabel Jun 14 at 21:18
  • @Cascabel - Where's the object? When the sentence is "They awoke," they did the action themselves. When the sentence is "The loud noise awakened them," then you can convert to passive without making any other adjustments: "They were awakened by the loud noise." Converting to passive makes me think of judo. You have contact with the opponent and use their momentum to throw them. – aparente001 Jun 14 at 21:22
  • I gotta process that. To me it seems like the 2 forms are still in free-fall, amd a definitive answer will not be in the offing. As John said below...maybe better to " avoid the perfect and passive with these verbs because nothing sounds right" M-W accepts both forms. – Cascabel Jun 14 at 21:29

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