Hi,

An exercise on passive voice asks students to rewrite the following sentence in the passive voice:

''After the tragic fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1999,everyone agreed that when they build tunnels in the future they should pay much more attention to safelty.''

The Answer Key privides the following answer:

''After the tragic fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1999,everyone agreed that when tunnels were built in the future more attention should be paid to safety.''

My question is this:

Why is it ''...were built...'' and not ''...are built...'', since the tense in the main sentence is simple present?

Thanks.
But the verb in the main clause is past: 'agreed'. This is a form of reported or indirect speech, where the subordinate verb ('were built') has been regressed with the main verb. Back in 1999, they said, 'We agree that when tunnels are built...'

(Also, someone failed to change the main verb into passive voice!

After the tragic fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1999, it was agreed that when tunnels were built in the future more attention should be paid to safety.' )
Mister MicawberBut the verb in the main clause is past: 'agreed'. This is a form of reported or indirect speech, where the subordinate verb ('were built') has been regressed with the main verb. Back in 1999, they said, 'We agree that when tunn els are built...' (Also, someone failed to change the main verb into passive voice! After the tragic fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1999, it was agreed that when tunnels were built in the future more attention should be paid to safety.' )
Hi,

Thanks for the explanation.

When I posted my question I had in mind reported speech and I was a ware of the verb regression with the main verb agreed.What I needed to understand was why are built ,which was required to be changed into the passive ,was not in past form in the original sentence, and the reason it was changed into past when it was changed into passive,ie,the passive caused the change of the tense!Why does the change in the tense,from present to past,occurred to are build only?

thanks
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AnonymousWhat I needed to understand was why are built ,which was required to be changed into the passive ,was not in past form in the original sentence
Because presumably they will continue to build tunnels into the future from the time of utterance; if the condition still obtains at the time of utterance, then the verb may remain in present tense; it is simply that native speakers tend to regress the verb.

He said, "I'm going to Shanghai in the spring of 2012."

He said that he's / he was going to Shanghai in the spring of 2012.

Only for reported-speech excercises are students required to regress the subordinated verb.
Mister Micawber
AnonymousWhat I needed to understand was why are built ,which was required to be changed into the passive ,was not in past form in the original sentence
Because presumably they will continue to build tunnels into the future from the time of utterance; if the condition still obtains at the time of utterance, then the verb may remain in present tense; it is simply that native speakers tend to regress the verb. He said, "I'm going to Shanghai in the spring of 2012."He said that he's / he was going to Shanghai in the spring of 2012. Only for reported-speech excercises are students required to regress the subordinated verb.
Hi,

My question still stands:Why was ''...when they build tunnels...'' in the original sentence become ''...were built...'' in the passive_ what did indirect speech have anything to do with passive only regarding the above verb?
The assignment was to change the verbs to passive voice.
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