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Passive or active voice

Hi friends 
He was born in London.
Is passive or active voice?


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited July 2018

    Historically, born is the PAST PASSIVE PARTICIPLE of bear.

    The verb bear is still used — although we more often say give birth to or colloquially have.

    It's a little old-fashioned, but we can say She bore him three sons. The PRESENT PERFECT is just about possible, but sounds very old-fashioned. She has born a child is much less likely than She has given birth to a child or She has had a child.

    Although born feels like an ADJECTIVE, we can see the VERBAL nature of the form when it's combined with adverbial expressions: born prematurely, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, born into a distinguished family.

    Contrast the adjective native. We can't say prematurely native or native with a silver spoon in his mouth or native into a distinguished family.

    There's absolutely no way that was born could be ACTIVE. The only active verb forms with was (or any other form of BE) are those with a PRESENT PARTICIPLE formed with -ing.

    (OK, some dialects of English allow PRESENT PERFECT forms such as is come, was sat etc, but not everybody accepts these as Standard English.)

  • edited July 2018
    Can we say that this sentence is in passive form with active meaning or sence? Or can we consider born as an adjective in this sentense? 

    I have read somewhere that some sentences look passive  (be+pp), but there is no action in the sentence.
    1.Is this seat taken?
    2.Chaplin was born in England.
    3.The dress is made of silk.
    4.The door is locked now.

  • I said

    The verb bear is still used

    speaking of the 'give birth' sense.

    In other senses bear has become unusual an unusual word for 'hold or carry'. But we still use it in a few ways

    • With news (and words of similar meaning) we quite often say I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news and less often They came back bearing better news.
    • With resemblance (and words of similar meaning) we quite often say He bore no resemblance to his father.
    • With other words describing what you see — specifically written words that are attached — we quite often say It bore the inscription or It bears the logo.
    • On financial documents, the word bearer means 'holder of this document'.
    • Speaking of nineteenth-century explorers, we use the word bearer instead of porter.
    • We use bear to mean 'successfully carry' when speaking of a heavy weight e.g. Can it bear that load?
    • The most common use of bear is 'endure' as in I can't bear it.
    • We say Bear with me meaning 'Be patient with me'.

    Turning back to the 'give birth' meaning. We often use the derived noun child-bearing.

  • Thanks, Dear profssor 
  • @AliNateghi

    Can we say that this sentence is in passive form with active meaning or sence?

    No. English doesn't have a verb which can be used in the ACTIVE to mean 'be born'. We can use phrases instead — notably He came into the world or He first saw the light of day.

    Or can we consider born as an adjective in this sentense?

    No. There's a difference between born and your other examples taken, made and locked.

    This seat is taken. (My friend took it a few minutes ago.)
    This dress is made of silk. (There's a special factory in China.)
    The door is locked. (It's been locked since last night.)

    The front-row seats were taken as soon as the theatre opened.
    The dress was made in China.
    The door was locked after work at six o'clock every day.

    These words can be used to mean 'in a state of having been taken/made/locked'. But born can't be used to mean 'in a state of having been born'. the verb be born refers to something that happens once. We can only say The baby has been born.

    Actually, there is a use of born as an ADJECTIVE, but it's rather unusual. We say, for example, She's a born musician meaning 'She was born with musical talent'.

    We can also use newborn as an ADJECTIVE meaning 'in a state of having born a short time ago'.

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