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ESL forum > Ask for help > Passive    

Passive



tommy1996
Vietnam

Passive
 
Plz tell me what is right She was seen to buy / buying some food at the market Thanks in advance

19 Jun 2017      



yasenglishclass
Canada

"She was seen buying"

19 Jun 2017     



Gi2gi
Georgia

I think, as far as grammar is concerned, both are correct.
The option that the previous poster suggested, is, undoubtedly, more common, but you can see the second option in specific situations, e.g. in legal texts.
 
To me it seems that the following is true:
 
(A) They saw her buy (active) =  She was seen to buy (Passive)
(B) They saw her buying (active) = She was seen buying (passive)
 
The difference is that in option (A) =  someone witnessed the whole process of buying while in option (b) =  just a part of the process was perceived or an emphasis is put on the process of buying.
 
 
Giorgi 
 
P.S. 
Once again, I do confirm that option (B) is by far more common. 

20 Jun 2017     



yanogator
United States

Well, Giorgi, you are right that your A is grammatically correct, but it would not be used in that sense, and it ´s because of the verb "seen". We would use "She was seen buying..." in both cases.
 
We definitely say "She was known to buy a cake occasionally, instead of baking her own", but the active version would be "They knew that she bought a cake occasionally" although in a novel it might show up as "They knew her to buy a cake occasionally." That has a definite literary sound to it.
 
This English is a complicated language, in case some of you haven ´t figured that out yet!
 
Bruce 

20 Jun 2017     



Jayho
Australia

As a native speaker (who was never taught grammar at school, but now has to teach it  ) I would like to say that I am  always in admiration of  members (NNS and NS) here who give thorough explanations to these tricky situations.
 
 

20 Jun 2017     



Gi2gi
Georgia

Bruce, what about the active option?
 
"I saw her buy something?"
 
In other words, is it Ok to say:
 
 
´ I saw Jim run down the stairs and into the street. ´
 
´I heard him run down the stairs. ´
 
´I watched him run down the stairs.... ´
 
Or is it necessary to use the present participle (running) instead of the ´bare infinitive ´ (run) with the ´verbs of perception ´ ( see, hear, feel, watch, etc...)?
 
In the ´complex object ´ (that ´s what some grammar books call it) they advise the use of the bare infinitive when the action was ´perceived from beginning to end ´ or in the above examples, if you  saw/watched/heard that Jim *ran* down the stairs you should use ´I saw him run ´ but if you saw that he *was running* you ´d better say ´I saw him running ´.
 
 To put it simple:
 
Is the following ´equation ´ correct?
 
I saw him run = I saw that he ran (observed the whole action /process)
 
I saw him running =  I saw that he was running (observed a part of the action or the process in development)
 
Giorgi 
 
 

22 Jun 2017     



yanogator
United States

Yes, Giorgi, you have the active part completely right. That ´s why I didn ´t mention it before.
 
If you use the present participle, it doesn ´t necessarily mean that you didn ´t experience the entire action, just that it isn ´t important to what you are reporting. As is usual with the present participle, the process is being emphasized.
 
Bruce 

22 Jun 2017