'when shone through a prism, a beam of white light breaks into all the colours of the rainbow'

Is the usage of shone correct here? Is it an adverb clause?


I think that "shone" is correct here, but it sounds a bit old fashioned. For more on shone vs shined, you could see this:


"shone" in your sentence is a passive participle from "shine," and it is part of an adverb clause.

Some English teachers will tell you not to write in the passive voice very often.

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  • Perhaps I'm showing my age, but I can't really endorse that "a bit old-fashioned". According to NGrams, both shone a light and shined a light have been gaining traction in the past few years. But I still think the latter sounds more "ignorant" than "modern". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '14 at 21:06
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    @Fumble - You've shone your age again ;^) – J.R. Aug 6 '14 at 22:25
  • @J.R. Sho 'nuff, massa! – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '14 at 22:40
  • I agree with Fumble - there's nothing old-fashioned about shone. In fact "shined" still sticks in my craw to some extent when I hear it and I have to remind myself that it's a valid form. Furthermore, in terms of the passive, "very often" is relative. The passive has a place in English and should obviously be used correctly, but to limit its frequency is ludicrous. In my answer, I recommended an active variant, but not because I consider the passive marked or incorrect in any way. – CocoPop Aug 7 '14 at 20:55

shone works. So do passed and directed.

Alternatively, you may opt to not use the passive voice at all:

When a beam of white light passes through a prism...

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Yes, the usage of "shone" in your example is correct. In this case, the use of "shone" versus "shined" is a matter of personal preference.

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