Alternative ways to form the passive voice

You can form sentences that are passive in meaning but not in form by using the verb to get or the verb to have in place of the verb to be. These constructions often describe situations where we want someone else to do something for us or where we are going to hire someone else to do something for us. The subject is active, but he is only doing the "getting". It is the unnamed person who is gotten who will perform the action of the main verb in the sentence. That second person is not explicit in the sentence when the sentence has a passive meaning. We are more interested in the result of the activity than in the person that performs the activity.

Examples
  • I must get my hair cut.
  • I must have my hair cut.
  • When are you going to get that window mended?
  • We're having the house painted.

This type of construction can refer to the completion of an activity, especially if a time expression is used.

Examples
  • We'll get the work done as soon as possible.
  • I'll get those letters typed before lunchtime.
  • She said she'd have my lunch delivered by noon.
  • You should have your roof repaired before next winter.

If the verb refers to something unwanted, it has the same meaning as a passive sentence.

Examples
  • Jim had his car stolen last night.
  • Jim's car was stolen.
  • They had their roof blown off in the storm.
  • Their roof was blown off in the storm.
Using "to need" in passive constructions

You can also use the verb to need followed by the gerund in an active construction with a passive meaning. The important thing in our minds in these sentences is the person or thing that will experience the action, not the person performing the action.

Examples
  • The ceiling needs painting.
  • The ceiling needs to be painted.
  • My hair needs cutting.
  • My hair needs to be cut.
  • That faucet needs fixing.
  • That faucet needs to be fixed.

 

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