Archive for September, 2011

Passive voice: verbs with two objects

September 28th, 2011 in Improve English

Many verbs can be followed by two objects: an indirect object and a direct object. Examples of such verbs are: give, send, show and lend. When a verb has two objects, two structures are possible.

She told me a story. (Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object)
She told a story to me. (Subject + verb + direct object +preposition + indirect object)
He gave his sister a car. (Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object)
He gave a car to his sister. (Subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object)Both of these structures can be made passive.

1. The indirect object as the subject of the passive verb

I was told a story (by her).
His sister was given a car (by him).
2. The direct object as the subject of the passive verb
A story was told to me (by her).
A car was given to his sister.

Of these, the first structure (indirect object as subject of the passive verb) is probably the more common of the two.

I have just been sent a new report. (More common)
A new report has just been sent to me. (Less common)
You were lent two thousand pounds last year. (More common)
Two thousand pounds were lent to you last year. (Less common)