I started with "Michael is drinking water", which I could convert to "Water is being drunk by Michael", which I could change to the past tense as "Water was being drunk by Michael".

That leads me to believe that I could change "Water is being drunk by Michael" to the future tense as: "Water will be being drunk by Michael". Am I right?

(In case somebody suggests "Water will be drunk by Michael", I believe that has a different connotation because I would derive it from "Michael drinks water" to "Water is drunk by Michael" and then change the tense to future to get "Water will be drunk by Michael".)

  • It would be, "Water will be drunk by Michael." Sorry. – JLG Jul 17 '12 at 2:19

Syntactically, yes, the sentence is correct. It's the Passive Future Progressive.

The direct derivation is:

Michael will be drinking water. >>> Water will be being drunk by Michael.

But the real question is, what do you want to mean by it, and in what situation?

You would have to be referring to a particular moment or point in time in the future. As in the Active Voice:

Fifteen minutes from now, Michael will be drinking water.

And to change it to the Passive Voice, the Subject would have to be worth emphasizing as well:

Fifteen minutes from now, the drugged water will be being drunk by Michael.

Compare with (and this is the direct derivation as well):

Michael will drink water. >>> Water will be drunk by Michael.

In short, if you're just trying your hand at Passive construction, it might be good practice. But it's always better to learn structure together with the meaning and application.

  • Thanks, I was just trying to understand the construction as opposed to composing meaningful prose. But the tip about the subject being worth emphasizing is very helpful. Would I be right in understanding your answer in summary form as "it is a correct but relatively rare form"? – semantax Jul 17 '12 at 2:30
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    I was taught that passive voice is to be avoided. (sic) – Tolerance72 Jul 17 '12 at 3:06
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    @Tolerance72, definitely not all of the Passive Voice is to be avoided. In many instances, only the Passive and not the Active is appropriate – Cool Elf Jul 17 '12 at 3:13
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    Try the Verb Phrase Study Guide (for which the Logic Study Guide might be a useful appetizer). – John Lawler Jul 17 '12 at 4:14
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    @Tolerance72 I like that your admonition against using passive voice is itself in passive voice. :v – semantax Jun 12 '14 at 9:13

Michael will drink Water Or Water will be being drunk by Michael. Looks compare

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