1

Would anyone please tell me which of the following two expressions is correct?

A. The problem was explained to the children.
B. The children were explained the problem.

or

A. A meeting place was suggested to us.
B. We were suggested a meeting place.

Waiting for your kind reply . Thank you very much .

3
+50

Only the direct object of the verbs "explain" and "suggest" can be at the head of a passive sentence. The indirect object in the passive comes after the verb.

  • The problem was explained to the children. (Correct)
  • The children were explained the problem. (Incorrect)
  • A meeting place was suggested to us. (Correct)
  • We were suggested a meeting place. (Incorrect)

For structural analysis:

  • The problem [direct object] was explained [verb] to the children [indirect object]. (Somebody explained the problem to the children. - Active)
  • A meeting place [direct object] was suggested [verb] to us [indirect object]. (Somebody suggested a meeting place to us - Active)

There are other verbs they work the same way: announce, repeat, and describe.

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  • 2
    I wouldn't say that #2 and #4 are incorrect with explained, just less common. – Lawrence Dec 26 '17 at 14:00
  • @Lawrence Are we talking about good grammar or bad grammar? In good grammar they are incorrect, period! – SovereignSun Dec 27 '17 at 4:37
0

In each example, you're giving one instance in which the direct object ('the problem' or 'a meeting place') is the focus, and another instance in which the indirect object ('the children' or 'us'/'we') is the focus.

It is possible for passive structures to begin with either the direct object or the indirect object. Consider these examples:

  • The gold medal was awarded to Sue.
  • Sue was awarded the gold medal.

or

  • The alphabet was taught to the students.
  • The students were taught the alphabet.

In each case, both variations are equally strong - it simply depends on which noun you'd like to focus on within your context.

The problem is that some passive sentences sound awkward when lead with indirect objects - ones linked with verbs such as 'explain' and 'suggest'. "The children were explained the problem," and "We were suggested a meeting place," may be colloquially acceptable, but their meanings are not immediately understandable.

Unfortunately, there's not a clear distinction between which verbs are ill-suited for their indirect objects to take the focus of passive sentences, but here's a nice rule-of-thumb:

In an active sentence, if prepositions such as 'to' can be removed from before the indirect object, that indirect object can work well as the focus of a passive structure of that same sentence.

  • The parents explained to the children the problem. - removing 'to' doesn't work well.
  • Richard suggested to us a meeting place. - removing 'to' doesn't work well.
  • The judges awarded to Sue the gold medal. - it's an okay sentence without 'to'!
  • The teacher taught to the students the alphabet. - it's an okay sentence without 'to'!

Just as 'explained' and 'suggested' need 'to' or some similar preposition to come before their indirect objects, starting the passive forms with 'the children' and 'we'/'us' respectively creates awkward sentences. (Just remember that while we're focusing on the indirect objects here, it's the verb that determines how they can be used.)

All that said, it's always acceptable and correct to use the direct object at the start of a passive sentence. You can't go wrong with "The problem was explained to the children," or "A meeting place was suggested to us."

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  • The children were explained the problem is agrammatical. To explain something to someone. Not to explain someone something. Very simple. – Lambie Dec 31 '17 at 19:42
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Very simply:

A. The problem was explained to the children [by the teacher]. [passive voice] B. The teacher explained the problem to the children. [active voice]

or

A. A meeting place was suggested to us [by the teacher]. [passive voice] B. The teacher suggested a meeting place to us.

There you have two sentences in their active and passive voices, with the changes introduced to make them make sense.

the verb explain: explain + direct object + to with indirect object the verb suggest: suggest + direct object + to with indirect object

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-5

Both are correct, but they have different meaning. The first sentence means that the children were explained the problem by someone. The second sentence means that the children themselves was explained the problem to someone.

The first sentence is a passive past sentence, while the other one is an active past sentence form.

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  • 1
    -1. This is completely incorrect. Both are passive sentences, and they mean the same thing (that someone explained the problem to the children), just with different foci. Additionally, “The second sentence means that the children themselves was explained the problem to someone” makes no sense whatsoever in English. It is ungrammatical and gibberish. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 24 '17 at 12:12
  • I think your statement is correct. Both are passive sentences, and they mean the same thing (that someone explained the problem to the children). – wuqt Dec 24 '17 at 12:33

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