If I were to make the following constructions, how would I label the parts of the sentence using passive voice terminology? Alice seems to be the agent in both these constructions, but which is the patient, and is there a term for the third argument?

  1. "The book was given to Bob by Alice."
  2. "Bob was given the book by Alice."

I would like to know both the terminology that is used traditionally in English grammar as well as a general term that can be applied to other languages, since I want to compare it to other languages that may have different syntax or structures.

  • 2
    Both are passive sentences; i.e, the rule of Passive has applied from an original sentence Alice gave the book to Bob. The difference is that the rule of Dative (She gave the book to Bob==> She gave Bob the book) has promoted the receiver Bob to direct object status before Passive in (2), but not in (1), which still has the book as the direct object before Passive. Oh, and the only patient is the book; semantically, in all of these sentences, Alice is the Source, Bob the Goal, and the book the Trajector, which is normal in ditransitive sentences. Jan 19, 2022 at 3:02
  • I'd say that the patients are "the book" and "Bob", which are functioning as subjects of 1. and 2. respectively. In both cases "Alice" is the actor.
    – BillJ
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:59
  • Note that, for me, patient is a semantic term, and has no meaning in syntax. Jan 19, 2022 at 16:23


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.