Re: Passive voice and the sticking to of guns

Subject: Re: Passive voice and the sticking to of guns
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 11:21:49 -0800

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With apologies, I attach the following instead of sending it normally
like most civilized people...

JSH

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Message-ID: <31602B27 -dot- 30E1 -at- software-ag -dot- de>
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 11:14:47 -0800
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- software-ag -dot- de>
Organization: Software AG
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To: stbrown -at- nacs -dot- net
Subject: Re: Passive voice and the sticking to of guns
References: <199604010416 -dot- XAA02240 -at- seka -dot- nacs -dot- net>
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Stan,

Sorry to differ with you, but the active present conditional voice:

"(You/one/etc.) could/would/should draw a line in the sand."

-- converts to the conditional present passive voice:

"A line in the sand could/would/should be drawn."

See the following:

- A Practical English Grammar, (Thomson & Martinet), article 289

...in which it states:

" The passive of an active tense if formed by putting the verb
'to be' into the same tense as the active verb and adding
the past participle of the active verb..."

I would add here that the active verb "draw" is by necessity also
transitive. But perhaps you've confused my use of "drawn" to be its
adjectival rather than as the verbal, as I've used it. I doubt this,
however, since while either I or a line in the sand could *be* drawn,
that either of us would *appear* drawn could well apply more to me (and
probably does, after this weak-end) but less so to the line. So I
presume that this point as well as any of the infinite number comprising
the line, is clear.

That only leaves me to surmise that you might have missed the "doer" in
my passive construction and therefore have mistaken it for simple present
conditional rather than the conditional passive I had used. To support
the absence of an attributable nominative ("doer", for those of you in
the cheap seats...), I offer the following:

- The Harper Handbook of College Composition, (H. Shaw -- no relation,
and if he were, he'd deny it), p. 17

...which says:

"...When verbs appear in the passive voice, the noun that names
the actual performer of the action either appears in a pre-
positional phrase at the end of the sentence *or is not specifically
named at all*..." (my *emphasis*).

So if in your view the ground I'm on is shakey, let me know. The
confusing and sometimes even contradictory references that I have for
supporting the veracity of my ability to convolute the passed, past or
passive, have, like this sentence, no end. Obtusely put, obfuscation is
my avocation.

Yours actively I remain...

Jack Shaw

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