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lessonenglish's avatar

Active or passive or past participle adjective?.

Asked by lessonenglish (268 points ) January 27th, 2011

I am very very confused about active passive and past participle adjective.

I can’t easily understand some sentences are of passive or active.

e.g.

The device is no longer connected.
(Active or Passive or Past participle adjective)

This issue will only get reproduced if the following steps are done.
(Active or Passive or Past participle adjective).

Ask the waiter to switch off the lights if they are not needed.
(Active or Passive or Past participle adjective).

Consider it done.
(Active or Passive or Past participle adjective).

Internet connection got disconnected yesterday.
(Active or Passive or Past participle adjective).
Is there any rule(s) to identify active or passive voice or past participle adjectives?

This question is easy for you all. Please answer this question without any tease

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8 Answers

morphail's avatar

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage on very and the past participle

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage on participles as adjectives

There are tests we can use to determine whether a participle has achieved adjective status.
attributive use: She gave me an annoyed look.
predicative use with seem: She seems rather annoyed.
premodification with very: She’s very annoyed.
comparison: She’s growing more/less annoyed by the minute.
A “by” phrase, when the agent is animate, tells us that the participle is still a participle: She was annoyed by the panhandler.
The grammarian Quirk claimed that modification by “very” is “explicit indication” that a participle has achieved adjective status. But what is an adjective to one speaker might still be just a participle to another.

I would say that all of your examples are passive.

WasCy's avatar

This is not so easy to respond to as you imagine.

Part of the problem is your wording of the question: “active or passive voice” is relatively simple; “past participle adjective” makes no sense (to me, anyway, and I comprehend much of the ‘technical’ aspects and naming of English speech).

So:

The device is no longer connected. —> Passive voice
“The device has not been connected” = present participle
“The device had not been connected” = past participle

This issue will only get reproduced if the following steps are done.—> Active voice (I think)

Ask the waiter to switch off the lights if they are not needed.—> Active voice

Consider it done. —> Active voice

(The) Internet connection got disconnected yesterday.—> Active voice

I’m still flummoxed by “past participle adjective”. This is news to me.

LostInParadise's avatar

First some general guidelines. Verbs that take an object, like connected, have the active form A connected B. All the sentences that you give have the subject A missing, so they are either passive voice or participle adjectives.

I find the distinction between passive voice and participle adjective a little tricky, but the guideline is that if you are talking about an action then it is passive voice, and if you are talking about a state then it is participle adjective. I am a little less certain on this, but I also think that passive voice requires some form of the verb to be.

In the examples that you gave, “get reproduced” and “got disconnected” refer to actions, but they do not use a form of to be, so I am not certain about them. All the others are participle adjective.

morphail's avatar

@WasCy There is a passive clause in each sentence. Here are the clause verbs bolded and the passive clauses italicized:

The device is no longer connected. (passive with be)

This issue will only get reproduced (passive with get) if the following steps are done. (passive with be)

Ask the waiter to switch off the lights if they are not needed. (passive with be)

Consider it done. (bare passive clause)

Internet connection got disconnected yesterday. (passive with get)

@lessonenglish is asking whether these are passive clauses, or past participles used as adjectives.

the passive in English

WasCy's avatar

@morphail

The presence of some of the clauses was what led to some of the confusion.

I considered “Ask the waiter” to be active. Ditto “Consider it done”. Both of those clauses are imperative (implied “you”). But you’re right about the “if they are not needed”. I thought (and still think) that “consider it done” is a slam dunk ‘active’.

morphail's avatar

@WasCy With the third and fourth sentences, you’re right that the main clauses are active. But the subordinate clauses are passive.

LostInParadise's avatar

I thought of a way of testing for testing for participle adjective or passive voice. The verb open does not have a participle adjective. You would say that the store is open, not opened. In each of the sentences, see if open or opened would be the proper choice.

1. The device is no longer open. – participle adjective
2. This issue will only get reproduced if the following steps are opened. – passive voice
3. Ask the waiter to switch off the lights if they are not open. – participle adjective
4. Consider it open/opened. – unclear
5. Internet connection got opened yesterday. – passive voice

Note that context makes a difference. For example, if I say, “I see the problem. The device is no longer connected/open.” In this case connected is a participle adjective. It describes the state of the device. Alternatively, consider, “We used to connect the device every morning. The device is no longer connected/opened.” In this case it would be passive voice. It describes an action being taken. Out of context, I would assume the participle adjective interpretation as more likely.

morphail's avatar

@LostInParadise you might be on to something. See here

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