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Which of the sentences is correct?

Most people can be made happy by being given what they need.

Most people can be made happy by giving what they need.

My guess is they are all correct. As for the understood subject, in the first sentence, being given take most people as its subject.; In the second sentence, the understood subject of "giving" is generic.

Edit: further question.

Can I interpret the second sentence as: People can be made happy by (others) giving (to them) what they need.

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  • The two have opposite meanings, as @BossElijah says. You could tweak the second one by saying "giving them what they need". Dec 3, 2019 at 11:31

1 Answer 1

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It depends on what you want the sentence to say, really. In the first sentence you say that they can be happy by getting what they need, but in the second sentence you say that they can be happy by giving away what they need.

My first guess is that you want the first sentence because most people aren't really happy when giving their needs away.

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  • What if I make a little change in the second sentence: Most people can be made happy by giving them what they need. Does it mean the same as the first sentence, then?
    – Robby zhu
    Dec 3, 2019 at 11:54
  • @Robbyzhu yes it does giving them and being given mean the same
    – WendyG
    Dec 3, 2019 at 13:07
  • @WendyG They mean the same in this context. Dec 3, 2019 at 15:23

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