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Are the sentences correct?

1. Bill saw the girls swim in the pool.

--> The girls were seen to swim in the pool by Bill.

2. Bill saw the girls swimming in the pool.

--> The girls were seen swimming in the pool by Bill.

3. Sam saw the girl bitten by a snake.

--> The girl was seen bitten by a snake by Bill.

To me, the third passive voice sounds strange. But how about:

People saw the girl bitten by a snake.

--> The girl was seen bitten by a snake.

Does it work?

Thanks for your time!!
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Comments  (Page 4) 
YankeeHi Koh

1. I know that you always look for the good stuff.

2. I am also aware that there are other English teachers on this site who post questions about information they have gotten from the grammar books they have to use. I think it's great when a teacher goes to the trouble of verifying the accuracy of what they have to teach.

3. No grammar book will ever be 100% perfect, and not every good grammar book works well for every student. But there certainly are plenty of very poorly written grammar books on the market, aren't there?

 Hi Amy
1. Thanks for the compliment. 
2. I fully agree.
3.  I notice some grammarians and authorities on English usage sometimes disagree on what the correct usage is.
As regards very poorly written grammar books on the market, I cannot find any in the bookshops in my country because they are very selective about the grammar books they sell. I think the books must meet their stingent standards before they are put on the shelves. 
I believe there are many very poorly written grammar books on the market in other countries. 
Yoong LiatAs regards very poorly written grammar books on the market, I cannot find any in the bookshops in my country because they are very selective about the grammar books they sell. I think the books must meet their stingent standards before they are put on the shelves.
That's interesting. So, who decides what can be sold?
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Thank you very much Amy for this insighful post. This was the point I was trying to make. When we offew help to learners, I believe we don't just consider the grammatical aspect but mechanical and semantics as well. The whole argument stemmed from this infamous sentence: "the girls were seen swimming in the pool [by bill] which I bracketted to denote its undesirability. In reality, the argument was futile as the intent quickly became lost when the focus was diverted to "authoritative quotes" and my qualification to comment. At the end, all agreed "by Bill" is unnatural. Case closed!

I like this:
<<English is not a mechanical device. Telling learners to mechanically create a heap of unnatural sentences is not my idea of good teaching.>> Exactly my view!
YankeeThe sentence "Bill saw the girls swimming in the pool" is a perfect example of a sentence that simply should NOT be transformed to a passive sentence at all.
Yo Amy,
does "The girls were seen swimming in the pool a few hours before they were found killed in the attic" sound bad? I thought sentences like that were fine. Did you mean it is bad in that particular context? Hmm, yeah, "The girls were seen swimming in the pool by Bill" doesn't sound like something you are likely to hear often, I think, but... I don't know. Let me know what you meant, thanks. Emotion: smile
YankeeJust because a book calls itself a "grammar book", that does not automatically mean that it is a good, or even an accurate book.
And just because someone is supposed to be an expert, doesn't mean they actually know a lot. And just because someone has studied a lot, doesn't mean they have understood a lot. And just because... you know how it is, it's always the same old story. Emotion: smile
If you want to hear my opinion, then I'll tell you that I have never found a "perfect" textbook, grammar, or course, and I have seen a lot of them. It's definitely because I am too picky, but it's mainly because it's impossible for anything like that to be perfect. The reason is that English is so complicated in reality that everything you read about it is just an opinion, after all.
All of the ESL material (all dictionaries included) I have seen and used have some limitations, can be imprecise, or misleading. That's inevitable... So it's best not to worry too much, or to not worry, wherever you want to put that negation. It don't really matter as long as you talkin' good, huh? Emotion: wink
Yankee
Yoong LiatAs regards very poorly written grammar books on the market, I cannot find any in the bookshops in my country because they are very selective about the grammar books they sell. I think the books must meet their stingent standards before they are put on the shelves. 
That's interesting. So, who decides what can be sold?

Where I live, there are only a few book companies, the most popular being Popular. It has many branches. I visited the branch near my house a few days ago and the title of the grammar books on sale is 'Grammar' published by Oxford. There are no other grammar books available.
I believe the director of Popular decides what grammar books are good enough to be put on the shelves. The company wants only the best grammar books displayed for sale. They know that their customers only want the grammar books of a high standard, and so it would be hard to sell those which are not written by authors who are not authorities on English.
I think you'll get a clearer picture if I list a few books that I have bought. It would be taking too much space if I listed out all of them. All my books are no longer available at Popular.
1. 'The Right at the Right Time' edited and designed by The Reader's Digest Association Limited, London.
2.  Practical English Usage by Michael Swan 
3. Collins Cobuild: English Grammar
4. Collins Cobuild: Verbs: Patterns and Practice
5. Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy, published by the press syndicate of the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
6. An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage by Geoffrey Leech, Professor of Linguistics and Modern Englsih Language at Lancaster University. 
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HI Kooyeen,
Thanks you posting this question. I think it's perfect!
<<"The girls were seen swimming in the pool a few hours before they were found killed in the attic" sound bad? >>

I don't want to steal the thunder from Amy. I just want to cast my 2 cent since this sentence got me so charged up in debate..
This is a perfect example of "agentless passive". There are 3 passive scenarios constructed into the sentence.
" were found killed" is a double passive where "by" is omitted.
Hi Kooyeen
Kooyeen"The girls were seen swimming in the pool a few hours before they were found killed in the attic"
This thread deals with transformations. You did not provide us with an active version of that sentence. Why not?

You've now added additional context to the sentence and also killed off Bill, so we are no longer even talking about the same sentence. (I thought only M. did things like that.) Emotion: wink

I do hope you agree that saying "The girls were seen swimming in the pool by Bill" is clumsy and awkward. That dooms a healthy active sentence to a painful death by mechanical manipulation. (OK, I was laying it on a little thick there...) There is simply no need to change that active sentence to a passive one. There is also no advantage in changing it to a passive.

The primary reason I said that sentence should not be turned into a passive is the simple fact that the active sentence begins with "Bill". In order to keep Bill alive and well in the passive sentence, we would have to tack "by Bill" onto the end of it. If Bill were completely unimportant in the active sentence, then the active sentence would not have mentioned him by name. Instead, the subject of the active sentence would have been something far more nebulous -- such as "somebody". Two typical reasons for using the passive are (1) when the agent is unknown or (2) when the agent is completely unimportant in the sentence. In your radically altered sentence, it is apparently unimportant WHO saw the girls swimming and WHO found them dead. In fact, it is entirely possible that you don't actually know WHO saw them and WHO found them. The focus of the sentence is solely on the girls and what happened to them.

When I discussed the third of the originally posted sentences, I provided my interpretation of the active sentence, and a passive version of my interpretation -- along with a possible context in which adding the agent ("by Bill") would be more typical.

- The snakebite victim was seen by (Doctor) Bill. -OR- The snakebite victim was seen by a doctor.

The verb "see" is usually connected very directly with the eyes. However, when we "see a doctor" or when we "are seen by a doctor", the verb "see" does not simply refer to what our eyes do. Thus, if we dropped the agent in the passive, the meaning of "see" would be open to misinterpretation. In this case, it would normally be important to add the agent because of the idiomatic meaning of "see a doctor". The "doctor" element is important to the meaning.
KooyeenIf you want to hear my opinion, then I'll tell you that I have never found a "perfect" textbook, grammar, or course, and I have seen a lot of them.
KooyeenAll of the ESL material (all dictionaries included) I have seen and used have some limitations, can be imprecise, or misleading. That's inevitable...
Have you read anything else I posted here? If and when you do, you will notice that I spoke about "good" material and "bad" material. I also specifically wrote that no grammar book will ever be "perfect", and also that not every good grammar book works well for every student. So I'm not quite sure what your point is. You addressed me in your post and you seem to be disagreeing with something, but I really have no idea what.
Personally, I prefer books/texts by authors who have a point of view, or represent a school of thought. The bias is up front, and the author speaks clearly while defending his position. "Manuals" on the other hand often try to cover everything out of a sense of obligation, and much of it comes out boring and without passion.

There seem to be several approaches being practiced today, all having their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Quirk and Swann are often quoted on this site, and occasionally appear to disagree with each other. According to Marius Hancu, the term "gerund" isn't mentioned by either of them. Still, the rules relating to gerunds are staunchly defended here.

My point is only that a text with which we happen to disagree is not necessarily bad, nor is it necessarily going to lead us astray. But it can certainly be challenging to try to learn from different masters simultaneously.

Some like Mac, some like PC, but they both get the job done.

In the meantime, truly bad texts continue to be plentiful.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
YankeeYou've now added additional context to the sentence and also killed off Bill, so we are no longer even talking about the same sentence. (I thought only M. did things like that.)
LOL, yeah, sorry, but I was actually asking about the structure "to be seen doing something" in general. Maybe I had read your posts too quickly, so I thought you wanted to imply there was something "unusual" about that structure. Now I understand that you were only talking about "The girls were seen swimming in the pool by Bill", which is correct grammatically, because it has the same structure, but it's odd in practice, because it's unlikely to be heard.
YankeeI do hope you agree that saying "The girls were seen swimming in the pool by Bill" is clumsy and awkward. That dooms a healthy active sentence to a painful death by mechanical manipulation. (OK, I was laying it on a little thick there...) There is simply no need to change that active sentence to a passive one. There is also no advantage in changing it to a passive.
Yep, that's what I suspected in my previous post, and what I suspected you actually meant, but I wasn't sure (some parts of this thread sound confusing to me), so I felt I had better ask you. Emotion: smile
YankeeThe verb "see" is usually connected very directly with the eyes. However, when we "see a doctor" or when we "are seen by a doctor", the verb "see" does not simply refer to what our eyes do. Thus, if we dropped the agent in the passive, the meaning of "see" would be open to misinterpretation. In this case, it would normally be important to add the agent because of the idiomatic meaning of "see a doctor". The "doctor" element is important to the meaning.
Yes, I agree that context is extremely important. I often see that it's not taken into consideration by some teachers, and so explanations become confusing. In this case, I failed to understand we were actually considering context too, so I misunderstood some posts, thinking there might be something grammatically weird. Emotion: smile
YankeeSo I'm not quite sure what your point is. You addressed me in your post and you seem to be disagreeing with something, but I really have no idea what.
LOL! Nothing! The second part was one of my usual rants about bad grammar books and teachers, I was not referring to you or anyone in particular. I had read your comments on this, and I was actually agreeing with you, even though maybe I was criticizing every grammar book, LOL. Some have very good advice in them though, but there's always something questionable... that's what I was saying. Emotion: smile