I had an exam yesterday. There was question involving the changing of voice.

We shall have finished our work by March next.

The answer to this is apparently

Our work will have been finished by us by March next.

My question is: Is the following also correct?

By March next our work will have been done by us.

  • 1
    Using a synonym was probably unwise given the nature of the exercise. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 20 '18 at 8:55

It is absolutely correct to start a sentence with "by". Take this one for example- "By adopting newer methods, Brian was able to boost his efficiency in his workplace." Usage of preopositional-gerund phrases are not too uncommon. However, for your sentence, "Our work will have been finished by us by March" sounds more appropriate. Let me know what your teacher marked as the correct one.

  • A snag here is that while both the passivised sentences are grammatical, neither sounds natural. By-phrases, though needed to reference the agent in passive constructions, often sound clumsy when involving pronouns. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 20 '18 at 8:54
  • It's dead right. I haven't seen anything wrong with sentence. However, you can begin your sentence with the phrase ''by March next''. – I don't know who I am. Mar 25 '18 at 15:57
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    If you're starting with a prepositional phrase, I'm fairly certain that you need a comma to denote the ending of the phrase: "By next March*,* we will have done (or finished) our work," would be how I would write it. – John Doe Aug 20 '19 at 18:36

"By March next" sounds wrong to me. To check whether this is a Britishism or some variation of English that I'm not familiar with, I've done a Google search for "By March next, we". The result was just over a thousand entries, most of which seem to be in Asian publications. Unless you're in a country where you hear people speak this way, it's probably best to go with "by next March" or "by March next year".

We will/shall have finished our work by next March.

Our work will have been finished by us by next March.

By next March, our work will have been finished by us.

These three sentences are all grammatically correct and mean the same thing, but only the first sentence sounds natural. The only reason I can imagine for choosing the passive voice here is to avoid specifying who will do the work. In this case, however, one would leave out "by us":

Our work will have been finished by next March.

By next March, our work will have been finished.

In the absence of a strong reason to use the passive voice, it's usually best to stick to the active voice.

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