Q) She is much liked by everybody.

This is about the possibility of using degree adverb to participial adjectives and verb participles.

In this sentence, is 'liked' used as a participial adjective? or a verb participle?

The answer in this book is that 'liked' is used as a participial adjective, so it can be modified by the degree adverb 'much'. However, there is a explicit personal agent 'everybody', so I think it should be a verb participle.


A 'participle' is a verb form that is nonfinite and an adjective or adverb. So, "liked" is certainly both a "participle verb form" and a "participle adjective" as well! Those can both be true, and are both true in this sentence.

"Liked" is /not/ a finite verb form here, and 'everybody' is not its subject!

This is a little confusing, because "liked" spelled just the same can be a past tense finite verb form with a subject, sometimes:

Everybody liked her.

Here, unlike you example sentence, "liked" is not a participle.

But in your sentence, it is a participle, and your book is correct that the use of 'much' is permitted because of this.

So, "by everyone" is a just a prepositional phrase. Compare the following sentences, which are grammatically identical:

She is liked by everyone.

The soup is cooked with wine.

It should be clear that "wine" is not a verb subject. The wine is certainly not doing the cooking. But the grammar is exactly the same in both sentences - "everyone" is not a verb subject either in the first sentence.

  • You haven't addressed the OP's concern about the presence of an agent, "everybody", in a by phrase, which would normally indicate that it's a verbal passive clause. – BillJ Sep 4 '20 at 8:19
  • I said explicitly that "everybody" is not the subject of a verb clause. I also explained that there is not really a difference between the two categories he is asking us to classify the word "liked" into. There's really nothing further to say - the question wasn't about this supposed "rule", and was fully answered (though seriously where are you actually getting that "rule" from? Can you point to a grammar book or site that gives it?) – BadZen Sep 4 '20 at 20:27
  • I don't understand why you say that "liked" in your example "Everybody liked her" is perfect past tense finite verb form? It's not the perfect, but the simple past tense. Your other example "She is liked by everyone" is passive, where "liked" is a past participle verb. We know it's passive because it has the same meaning as the active "Everybody like her". – BillJ Sep 6 '20 at 12:44
  • You are correct about the example being simple past tense! I originally had a different exeample - thanks for the correction, edited. Passive voice is not a tense. I'm not sure why you bring it up here, but you are correct that the sentence you say is in the passive voice actually is. (The example in OP is also passive voice.) I don't think it's the same as "Everybody like her", nor is that last sentence at all correct/grammatical. Did you mean "Everybody likes her?" In any case, the participle constructions we are talking about can and do indicate the passive voice sometimes. – BadZen Sep 6 '20 at 16:04

She is much liked by everybody.

The degree AdvP "much" indicates that "liked" is an adjective here. If it was a verb, the active counterpart would be the ungrammatical *"Everybody much likes her".

The clause does have a by phrase with "everybody", but such phrases are permitted in adjectival passives when the meaning of the corresponding verb is stative, as it is in your example (the verb "like" is stative).

Compare also "Ed was worried by the prospect of redundancy", where "worried is an adjective because the corresponding verb "worry" has a stative meaning.

Edit: there's a lot of confusion about participles and whether they are verbs or adjectives. The simplest way round this is to use the term 'participial adjective' for the adjectives, reserving the term 'participle'for the verbs.

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