+0
Hello

I got a question from a learner in a Japanese site for English learning. It's a really simple question but I myself am puzzled at it.

The question is:
You say, "He made her sing". When you passivize it, you say "She was made to sing" not "She was made sing". The question is why you do not put "to" before "sing" in active voice but you put "to" in passive voice.

The questioner wants an explanation more than "Because it is an English grammar rule and we native speakers say so".

paco
1 2
Comments  
Hmm.

He made her sing -- She was made to sing.
He heard her sing -- She was heard to sing.
He helped her sing -- She was helped to sing.
He saw her sing -- She was seen to sing.
He let her sing -- She was let (to) sing (?)
He had her sing -- She was had (to) sing (?)

Quirk, et al merely comment that in this type of Object + bare infinitive complementation, some of the very limited number of verbs grouped there (have, let, make, feel, hear, overhear, see, watch, notice, observe, help, know) permit the passive, some do not, and for others the passive is doubtful or limited acceptability-- and some require the infinitive marker to in the passive voice. See Quirk 16.52.
I think in Middle English, the to-infinitive version is possible (e.g. "he made her to sing").

Wild guess: the passive version is a later structure, or perhaps simply less common, and thus more regular.

MrP
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Paco2004Hello

I got a question from a learner in a Japanese site for English learning. It's a really simple question but I myself am puzzled at it.

The question is:
You say, "He made her sing". When you passivize it, you say "She was made to sing" not "She was made sing". The question is why you do not put "to" before "sing" in active voice but you put "to" in passive voice.

The questioner wants an explanation more than "Because it is an English grammar rule and we native speakers say so".

paco
Didn't you have the answer to that question back in Post :157932 ?

http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/IndirectObjectOrAdverbial/bmjbh/Post.htm
In Middle English, and even early modern English

Shakespere certainly had "make" followed by the object and bare infinitive in Love's Labour's Lost: Act 4, Scene 3: O, 'tis the sun that maketh all things shine! published in 1598. However, the KJV (published 1611) has Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

This is of no use to your Japanese friend, however. In contempory English, verbs in the active voice followed by the infinitive without "to" do not address purpose. By contrast all un-negated verbs except "be let" ending in an adjective or past participle can be followed by to and the infinitive because they have a purpose. (Although a few like "would be happy" can be followed by v-ing instead.) With "be made" we have the "purpose of being" if you like. "Let" can never be purposeful because its very meaning implies complete passivity with regard to an action. At least with "allow" , which is near in meaning to "let" a decision is made to allow, with "let" this is lacking.

Hello guys

Thank you for the replies. All of them are very helpful to me in thinking the problem. I think I had better explain the question more in detail.

Actually the questioner asked at first the semantic difference between "He made her sing" and "He told her to sing". So, at first I explained to the questioner like as follows:

To my knowledge, the difference comes from Old English where they used verbal infinitives in accusative form (which correspond to bare infinitives in modern English) as well as ones in dative form (which correspond to to-infinitives in modern English). So the "sing" in "He made her sing" is taken to carry a sense of accusative case, and as the consequence the sentence can be parsed as "He made her-sing", which means, "her-sing" is an inseparable objective of the verb "make". In contrast, the "to sing" in "He told her to sing" carries a sense of old dative infinitives which were used to mean "towards the said action or activity". In this case, "her" and "to sing" are separable entities, and "to sing" can be taken as a complement of the verbal "tell her" as known from the fact we can say "He told her so" by replacing "to sing" with "so".

This was the first reply I made to the question. Then he (or might be she) asked as follows. "If 'her sing" in the 'made' using construction is really an inseparable entity, why can we make a passive sentence like 'She was made to sing' and why is 'to' inserted in this case?" With this question, I lost for an answer. If my theory is right, it should be impossible to make a passive sentence for "He made her sing".

I feel Endi's reply might contain some clues. I have believed "He made her sing" and "She was made to sing" are the same in the meaning. But I am beginning to feel you native speakers might take them as subtly different in the sense. The active version clearly implies "She actually sang", but how about the passive version? Is it possible to say like "She was made to sing, but she didn't"?

paco
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Here's just one small data point to include in your cogitation on this subject.

I don't personally, as a native speaker, sense anything different in meaning between

He made her sing.

and

She was made to sing.

except that the agent "he" drops off in the second example.

The difference in meaning is the same difference as for any other active-passive pair, in my opinion -- that is, barely any at all.

Consider the possibility that the D-structure always contains the "to" and that there is a rule that is activated only for certain lexical items and only in active voice (It may be called "Obligatory TO-deletion"). Rule ordering would say that if a passivization transform is to be applied, it must be applied before Obligatory TO-deletion. -- something of that nature --

CJ

CJ
Thank you, CJ. Your explanation is very interesting and kind of a surprise to me.

I rather think, if you have "He made her to sing" as a D-structure in your minds, a considerable portion of your folks, maybe some kids would utter it as a S-structure. But actually very few people do so. For example, "Someone made him run" hits some 670 pages on UK domain, but no page is hit for "Someone made him to run". Do you think it is because English education is so excellent in UK?

paco
Sorry guys, you've lost me with your S and D structure terms. What exactly is an S or D structure?

The accusative idea seems feasable I'll understand better when I know what D and S are, though. Personally, I like to think of words like make, let, leave, help and the verbs of passive perception such as see, hear, etc as transitive modals when they are followed by the object and bare infinitive. Admittedly, they can all be followed by other structures too.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more