Which version would be idiomatic? I have the second version in my English study book and was surprised by their construction. Is it idiomatic to speak like that? "But these textbooks they bought."?

All of the students take the books from the library. But these textbooks were bought by them.

All of the students take the books from the library. But these textbooks they bought.

P.S. If it's possible to speak about that in this post, could you answer about "the books". If I speak about all the books in that library, I must use "the books" or "books"? I think "the books" is better here.

1 Answer 1


Both possible.

The first is a passive form, with the subject taking the semantic role of the object.

The second is active, but the object has been fronted in "yoda-speak".

While these are possible grammar, most people would use the active "But they bought these textbooks." The fronting of "These textbooks" is a rhetorical device to focus on the textbooks.

  • If I understand right, the speaking Object-Subject-Verb existed much earlier than Star Wars. It can be used during some presentation, but speaking like that can be considered as mistaken on a formal examination. Right?
    – Sergei
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 11:19
  • 1
    Yes, it existed before star wars. It has always been a rhetorical option. I don't know about "formal examination", it depends what is being examined. It is an entirely valid construction, with a specific rhetorical purpose. If you use it incorrectly... that is incorrect.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 15:20

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