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Once the employees have completed the company's largest project successfully, they will be offered an opportunity to be considered for a promotion.

I found that sentence in my English book and this is a little bit confusing because I am not sure WHO consider the opportunity between the employees and the company.

First, I understand the "consider" means to contemplate giving something (often a particular job or role) to someone(Link). And to see the detail meaning, I divided the sentence into two as follows.

a-1.The employees will be offered an opportunity + the company will consider the employees for a promotion.
=a-2.The employees will be offered an opportunity + the employees will be considered for a promotion by the company.
=a-3.The employees will be offered an opportunity+ to be considered for a promotion (by the company).

I tried it like this way :

b-1.The employees will be offered an opportunity + the company will consider an opportunity for a promotion.
=b-2.The employees will be offered an opportunity + an opportunity will be considered for a promotion by the company.
=b-3.The employees will be offered an opportunity+ to be considered for a promotion (by the company).

What makes sense to me is the situation that employees will consider the opportunity like the group of sentence A. Would you please tell me which one is the right divided sentences? And if the group sentence B are right, could you explain the precise meaning of that with nuance?

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    What makes you think it’s a passive infinitive sentence? The subject of the first sentence is “employees” and the antecedent “they” (subject of “They will be offered...”) refers to “employees”. A passive sentence would mean the object of the previous sentence has become inverted to be the subject of a new sentence.
    – aesking
    Jul 18 '19 at 13:25
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    I thought 'to be ed/en' phrase is called passive infinitive and found the term from here : dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/… Am I wrong?
    – Jean
    Jul 18 '19 at 14:11
  • This is a passive voice sentence. No question about it. It has an implied subject, which is the company. The subject is not directly expressed.
    – Karlomanio
    Jul 18 '19 at 14:15
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    @Karlomanio Are you confusing agent and subject? In neither "I was fired" nor "I was fired by the company" is the company the subject. Jul 18 '19 at 14:43
  • Yes, I meant agent. Thanks @EdwinAshworth!
    – Karlomanio
    Jul 18 '19 at 14:44
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The sentence

  • They will be offered an opportunity to be considered for a promotion

contains two clauses: a main clause, and an infinitive clause modifying an opportunity. Both clauses have been modified by the Passive construction, among others, and reduced by substitution and deletion rules.

Something like an unwound expansion of this sentence might be

  • The company will offer an opportunity to the employees -- (main clause)
    for the company to consider the employees for a promotion. -- (infinitive clause)
    (It doesn't sound like such an opportunity stated that way, does it?)

The company isn't mentioned in the passives, but it's the agent subject of both clauses, in the active.
The clauses are in the passive form because the subject is already mentioned in the preliminary subordinate clause, and because it is obvious from the employee relation mentioned.

  • Once the employees have completed the company's largest project successfully,

After this clause, both the company and the employees can be represented by them. The listener is required to understand which one, but since the company is the agent in both clauses, making them agentless passives (applying Passive without the agent by-phrase) gets rid of them. Thereafter, reference to them in this context refers to the employees.

The Passive in the main clause is complicated because it involves Dative,
which is the rule that relates these two sentences, for instance:

  • The company offered an opportunity to them.
  • The company offered them an opportunity.

Passive applied to these two variants gives two variant of Passive:

  • An opportunity was offered to them.
  • They were offered an opportunity.

The Dative Passive of the second example is what happens in the main clause.

The infinitive clause loses its original agent subject by agentless Passive,

and then loses its derived for-phrase and the receiver (not agent) subject it introduces

  • [for them] to be considered for a promotion

by ordinary infinitive reduction. Most infinitives lack an overt subject, either because the subject is not specific, or because (as here) it is specific, but it can be inferred from the syntax and the context.

Left unanalyzed is the predicative but not syntactic relation between offering an opportunity and its modifying infinitive clause -- the clause details some of the offering and some of the opportunity, and they're related in several ways; but syntactically, all one can say is that the infinitive modifies the noun phrase.

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  • This is so great! Thank you so much for your kind explanation. I guess there are two questions to make sure that I understand you correctly. First, in the sentence where it read : the infinitive clause loses its original agent subject by agentless Passive, the word 'its original agent subject' indicate the company, right? Second, would you please explain the definition of the receiver subject (Is it just another word for a subject?' and which one between the employees and the company is the receiver subject?
    – Jean
    Jul 20 '19 at 9:48
  • (1) Yes, the original agent subject was the company (presumably; it isn't there, but that's what it means). (2) By 'receiver subject' I mean the employees, since they were the (potential future) receivers of the opportunity; 'receiver' is a semantic role (in this case there are 3 argument roles for the verb: agent/source (the company), patient/trajector (an opportunity), receiver/target (the employees). Passive can promote the patient to subject (an opportunity will be presented) or, if Dative is involved, it can promote the receiver to subject (the employees will be offered). Jul 20 '19 at 17:04

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