Hello everyone,

- preface -
I tried the archives but there are so many posts, so I couldn't go through those, unwillingly ignoring the rule here - sorry about this. Anyway, this is very very fundamental but I can't find any straightforward answer from dictionaries I have. I would appreciate helps from anybody who have very plain and pinpointing answer for my question.

- question -
Verb 'start' is intransitive, then I can say something like:
Safety Review Committee started from March 13, 2005 to address issues surrounding use of ***.
But perhaps it might sound bit awkward in passive tense of this sentence - committee was started from...

For the followings, now both sounds ok, at least to me (in a clinical study):
Drug administration started from March 1 and finished on March 10.
Drug administration was started from March 1 and finished on March 10.

There are plenty use found on the internet. Is one of these incorrect or is it just a matter of the intention as to which the writer want his/her focus on?

Thanks for your help in advance.


Only sentences with transitive verbs can be made passive. In the transitive sense you can say, "The driver started the motor" or "The motor was started by the driver", and similar expressions. However, while you can say, "All the students started to talk at once", you can't twist that into "*To talk at once was started by all the students"!

In the case of your sentence, let me modify it a little to make it more idiomatic.

On March 13, 2005, the Safety Review Committee started to address issues surrounding the use of ***.

This cannot be rewritten as the "passive" sentence,

*On March 13, 2005, to address issues surrounding the use of *** was started by the Saftety Review Committee.

because "to address ..." is not really the sort of direct object that makes sense as the subject of a passive construction.

If we passivize "address", and not "started", we have,

?On March 13, 2005, issues surrounding the use of *** started to be addressed by the Safety Review Committee.

--- not as strange as the previous sentence, but quite awkward nonetheless.

Again with your "drug administration" example, the word you want is "started on" (a date), not "from" (a date).

There it's immaterial whether you use "started" or "was started".

Drug administration (was) started on March 1 and (was) finished on March 10.

Including "was" puts the emphasis on the fact that somebody had to start/finish administering the drug(s) (to the subjects of the study, presumably), and thus somewhat personalizes the statement. Omitting "was" creates a less personal, more objective, scientific style.

California Jim
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Hello CalifJim,

Il mio maestro grande!! Thank you for your explanation. I always admire your reply in concise and clear way. I am afraid but I think I already understood transive and intransive, BUT the way you showed me is absolutely unforgettable and I can keep it strongly in mind not to make this kind of primitive mistake.
There's still a long way to master your language...

Preposition is very confusing and difficult. "Start 'on' the date" is the correct way.

The second point, you explained exactly what I couldn't really put in words. It's a matter of the viewpoint at which a write is describing a situation. Different emphasis is given: 'Something is started' implies a presence of a cause other than 'something' to set off as it may be followed by 'by someone or something' whereas 'something started' does not involve any other entity that triggered the start of 'something.' Hope what I am saying here for my understanding makes sense to you.

Thanks a lot

I have two questions ,please


1-In my city where I live,new small projects(start-are started) every day.
2- He (was sent- has been sent) to prison for his crimes.