In the following cloze test

Leisure is time spent away from business, work, and household duties. It does not actually include time ..(1).. on necessary activities such as sleeping, and where it is a must, e.g. education.

Can you tell me why the answer is c, and not b?

a) spending
b) is spent
c) spent

  • Because a) and b) are incomplete. a) time you are spending on... , b) time that is spent on... c) is the correct single word answer, time spent on... Jun 9 '18 at 22:04
  • in "c", "spent" is an adjective with a complement?
    – sepideha
    Jun 9 '18 at 22:24
  • Spent is the past participle of the verb to spend although it can be used as an adjective. "I spent the money - the money is spent (adjective) - the money was spent (past particple)". Jun 9 '18 at 22:29
  • in your example " the money was spent" is not it (adjective) as well?
    – sepideha
    Jun 9 '18 at 22:38
  • @Weather Vane I have edited my answer to this question. In that edit, I have expressed a partial but not highly material disagreement with one of your preceding comments. I think it only courteous to let you know so that you have a chance to respond if you so wish. Jun 10 '18 at 14:42

It is a kind of ellipsis. The meaning is ** it is time that is spent away from**. So it is a restrictive relative clause acting as an adjective. You may drop that is in such a construction without changing the meaning, but you must drop both words. You then have a past participle introducing an adjectival phrase modifying the preceding noun.


As was correctly implied by Weather Vane in his comments, (a) and (b) are incomplete.

(However, I disagree somewhat with WV that there is any difference in the grammatical function of spent in the phrases is spent and was spent. In both cases, spent is a passive participle. In both cases, it can be described as being used either as an adjective or else as part of a passive verbal phrase. I see as yet no rationale for saying that a change in tense of be eliminates the passive voice in one case but not the other.)

In (b), we have a form of ellipsis that is not grammatical. You can drop is and get the proper ellipsis of (c). Or you can insert that before is to complete the relative clause. In that sense, (b) is incomplete.

In (a), we have a proper structure for an ellipsis. I can properly say I don't like the dog barking to mean I don't like the dog that is barking. Notice that we have an ellipsis involving a dog that is doing something. The verb is in the active voice. But the meaning of your example does not involve time doing anything. So although the form of ellipsis is acceptable, its active voice makes absolutely no sense. Notice that when WV completed the ellipsis properly, he did so by adding you to justify the active voice. In this sense, (a) is incomplete.

  • why "a" is wrong?
    – sepideha
    Jun 10 '18 at 12:12
  • @ Sepideha I have edited my answer to address your question above. Jun 10 '18 at 14:37
  • Thank you for the above comment to me. It's a moot point. However I still can't agree that the money was spent can be using an adjective: unless you had a refund so it is no longer spent. But the question was about time and you certainly can't get that back! Jun 10 '18 at 17:17

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