I leanred the passive in my grammar class. Teacher said the sentence

'George said that he made his house clean before the party.'

...is wrong because 'clean' should be changed into 'cleaned'.

I can understand it should be changed if 'clean' is used as a verb, but what if 'clean' is an adjective?

I asked her and she said it's wrong to use 'clean' since the change of state(being dirty to clean) is important, and 'clean' as an adjective only presents the result, but I still can't understand.

Is it wrong to use 'clean'?

3 Answers 3


I think this sentence is a technically correct but poor for three reasons:

George said that he made his house clean before the party.

First, it simply is not idiomatic. A typical English speaker would not phrase a sentence this way.

Second, it's overly wordy and words that don't add value should be removed. What does the above sentence tell you that this one doesn't?

George said that he cleaned his house before the party.

It's only one word difference, but the grammar is simpler.

Finally, what is the verb here? I don't think active/passive is the issue but rather that you've taken what's actually gone on - cleaning - and moved it off to an adjective. George cleaned. That's primarily what he did. He didn't make.

In general active verbs are better than wimpy ones. "Cleaned" is a lot stronger voice than "made clean". "Made clean" almost sounds like George (Jetson!?!? ;-) pushed a button to get his house clean.

Again, these are somewhat finer points and perhaps open to interpretation. Your original sentence is not wrong or unintelligible by any means.


Your sentence

'George said that he made his house clean before the party.'

is grammatically correct. However, this sentence is in the active voice instead of the passive voice; perhaps this is the error your teacher was pointing to.

Here is an example of a version of your sentence, but in the passive voice:

'The house was cleaned by George.'

We know that this sentence is in the passive voice because it has a form of the verb 'to be' (in this case, 'was') followed by something that is technically called the past participle (in this case, 'cleaned').

There are other ways we could implement passive voice:

'George said the house was cleaned by him.'

Here, the main phrase of the sentence is in active voice ('George said'), but the additional information is in passive voice ('the house was cleaned').

'It was said the house was cleaned by George.'

Here, both the main phrase and the additional information are in passive voice. However, it is worth noting that phrases like this are rarely used in everyday conversation, as it is relatively abstract (the 'it' in this sentence represents people in general).


Your teacher is totally wrong. "To make clean" (where "clean" is an adjective) means the same thing as the verb "to clean". Your sentence is completely grammatical and gets across the intended meaning.

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