My question may be a little strange...but I appreciate any help I can get.

Given a passive sentence: "The subjects have been captured by the officer"...

...and applying transformational rules to the underlying structure...

Underlying Structure: The officer past have en capture the suspect.
Passive Transformation: The suspect past have en be en capture by the officer.
Affix-Hopping: The suspect have+past be+en capture+en by the officer.

How does subject-verb agreement come into play? As a native english speaker I would say "The officer has captured the suspect" or "The suspects have been captured by the officer." It is unclear to me wether subject-verb agreement must be taken into account before or after the passive transformation. Regardless if the sentence is passive or active "the officer" is the subject of the sentence but the verb "have" seems to change depending on wether the sentence is active or passive. If "the officer" is always the subject how come the the verb "have" changes? I am just really confused about how subject-verb agreement comes into play here. Would I use it before or after the passive rule? Perhaps it doesn't matter at all?

- Thanks
1 2
Active: The officer has captured the subjects.
The officer: subject
has: auxiliary perfect tense verb in 3rd person singular since officer is a singular noun
captured: past participle, needed for the perfect tense
the subjects: object of has captured

Passive: The subjects have been captured by the officer.
The subjects: grammatical subject of the sentence, in actual fact still of course the object of the verb capture
: auxiliary perfect tense verb in 3rd person plural since subjects is a plural noun
been: past participle of be, needed for the perfect tense of be; reflects the original tense
captured: past participle of capture, needed because the verb is in the passive voice
by the officer: agent of the passive sentence, formed from the subject of the active sentence and naturally still indicates who did the job of capturing the subjects

Unfortunately this is the only passive of English and therefore may occasionally cause confusion. Its structure, however, is very simple.

It seems obvious that the subject-verb agreement must happen after the passive transformation. Otherwise you end up with the ungrammatical

*The suspects has been captured by the officer.
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Good question.

In brief, subject-verb agreement must be taken into account after passive transformation . In other words , immediately after the exchangability between the subject and the object which will become the grammatical subject (VS the logical subject). Example :

"The subjects have been captured by the officer"...
Passivization The officer --------------------------------------- the subjects.

The officer has been captured by the subjects.

In response to the questions posed in the first post of this thread, "the officer" is NOT the subject of the sentence regardless of whether the sentence is active or passive. "The officer" is undoubtedly the doer of the action in both sentences, but it is the subject only in the sentence with the active verb.
In the sentence with the passive verb, it can only appear in the predicate as "agent". It is still the doer of the action but no longer the subject of the sentence.
The subject, in a sentence with a monotransitive verb such as "capture" is always the "receiver" or "undergoer" of the action, and it will change from subject to direct object in an active sentence.
If we have a look at the post before mine, we will see "The officer has been captured by the subjects", which is untrue if we consider the sentences in the first post correct. The subjects have been captured, not the officer.
"The subjects" is not only the grammatical or formal subject of the passive verb, it is also the notional subject or whatever other name you might wish to call it. The subject of a sentence is not necessarily the doer of the action, and that fact doesn't make the subject in question any less "logical" than it should be. Actually, it'd be illogical to make "the officer" the subject of the passive verb if what you mean is precisely the opposite.
The officer, whether as agent or subject (from a syntactic point of view) will always be the "agent" of both sentences, the active and the passive, from a different perspective, from that of thematic roles. Perhaps analysing the sentence in terms of thematic roles will help you see the diferences between active and passive constructions more clearly. In this type of analysis, the agent (not a syntactic function) is the doer of the action regardless of whether the sentence is active or passive and also regardless of the position the construction occupies in the sentence. The direct object of an active sentence, and the subject of that sentence in the passive voice, are called "patient" if a living entity, and "theme" if it's a non-living entity. Again in this case, it shows that places are not always what define a function.

Leaving that aside and coming back to transformational grammar, Chomsky and his theories aren't the easiest to understand. But it is important to remember that an active sentence and a passive one require different mental processes and that, according to Chomsky, when you think of a sentence there are choices you must make before actually coming up with an utterance. One of those choices has to do with the sentence being active or passive. If you decide on a passive sentence, that will dictate a number of sub-processes needed in order to make adjustments to produce a grammatical sentence. Chomsky says that the choices concerning a sentence in the passive voice are made at the very beginning, at the moment you decide your sentence will be in the passive voice instead of the active. All this usually happens without us being aware of our own mental processes, but it seems we make decisions such as subject-verb agreement the very moment we decide what type of sentence we wish to produce. In his first book (Syntactic Structures, 1957, Chomsky made the rules for the passive voice appear as "optional". Later, in 1965, when he was already closer to becoming a rationalist or mentalist, and farther away from structuralism, he saw that the rule couldn't possibly be optional and that they should appear at the level of the phrase structure rules; in other words, before the "transformational" stage.
I hope this makes sense. I tried to put it in very few words, but I'm not sure it was a good idea. Emotion: smile

what are the rules in subject verb and agreement
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Anonymouswhat What are the rules in of subject verb and agreement ?
If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
That's all there is to it.
The couple is living in Dallas
The couple are living in Dallas

AnonymousThe couple is living in Dallas
The couple are living in Dallas


Either one will do. Couple is grammatically singular but two people are needed to form a couple. Especially in British English a plural verb is often used if many people are involved: England are up four to two. That's what a British sports commentator would say about a football match. I don't think I have ever heard is used in that context.
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