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Can we use verb "Go" in passive voice?

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    Could you spit two questions into just that - two questions. – gone fishin' again. Nov 28 '14 at 9:27
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    "The car was gone." . . . Er, hmm, is it or isn't it . . . :D – F.E. Nov 29 '14 at 13:14
  • I wonder if there could possibly be a prepositional passive using "GO"? . . . "The truck went through the mine field unsuccessfully" --> "The mine field was gone through unsuccessfully", hmm, not so good. How about: "The mother went through the child's hair with a fine tooth comb" --> "The child's hair was gone through with a fine tooth comb", hmm, that seems better. :) – F.E. Nov 29 '14 at 13:28
  • There seems to be a good handful of examples in this book: The prepositional passive in English ... -- e.g. "A great deal of trouble was gone to to ensure their safety." – F.E. Nov 29 '14 at 21:06
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    Oh, I do that. Thanks for notifying me. @Araucaria – Maulik V Jul 20 '15 at 5:40
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Can we use verb "Go" in passive voice?

Yes, we can.

Golly, that was an easy one to answer. :D


Wut? You'd like some examples?

How about,

  1. The child's hair was gone through with a fine tooth metal comb to remove nits.

which is an example of a prepositional passive.

If that example isn't good enough, then there are examples in the book, The Prepositional Passive in English, by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, published 1979, such as:

  1. A great deal of trouble was gone to to ensure their safety.

  2. His pockets were gone through several times.

And there are plenty of more examples in that book.

What this means is:

  • It is not a grammar "rule" that an active voice sentence must be transitive in order to have a corresponding passive voice sentence.

Let's look a bit more closely at one of the above examples of a prepositional passive and verify that it does have a typical form of a passive main clause. For instance:

  1. His pockets were gone through several times.

    • The clause seems to have a past-participle verb form of the verb "GO", which is the verb "gone".

    • That word "gone" doesn't seem to be an adjective. And so, it is probably a verb.

    • The clause has a verb form of the auxiliary verb "BE", which is the verb "were".

    • The clause seems to have a passive interpretation.

And so, that example #3 does seem to be a passive.


LONG ANSWER: Some basic grammar info about passives


Much of the basic info out there on passives, as taught in schools and in grammar books, is often wrong. For example, many grammar sources teach students the bogus rule that only transitive clauses can have a corresponding passive. That is a bad rule. For instance, often there are intransitive clauses that have corresponding passives (such as prepositional passives). Examples of prepositional passives have already been given earlier in this post.

The rest of this post provides some basic grammar info on passives. Much of this info will contradict some of those bogus rules that are commonly taught to students.


Background info #1:

Transitive active voice sentences often have corresponding passive voice sentences. But not always, and here are some examples of transitive active voice sentences that don't:

  • The town boasts a great beach.

  • Max lacks tact.

  • Jill has three wonderful kids.

  • The jug holds three litres.

(Note that the above examples are borrowed from ASITEG, page 244, [13].)

ASIDE: The textbook ASITEG considers the following examples ungrammatical: A great beach is boasted by the town. Tact is lacked by Max. Three wonderful kids are had by Jill. Three litres are held by the jug. And the reasons that they give for them to be ungrammatical are, on page 244:

  • Boast and lack occur only in active clauses. Have occurs in passive constructions, in its dynamic sense, as in She was happy to find there was both water and gas [to be had]. Hold occurs in passives like It was held in place by duct tape, but not where it means "contain".


Background info #2:

Sentences in passive voice often have corresponding active voice sentences. But not always, and here are some examples of passive voice sentences that don't:

  • Pat is reputed to be very rich.

  • It is rumoured that there will be an election before the end of the year.

  • Kim is said to be a manic depressive.

(Note that the above examples are borrowed from the 2002 CGEL, page 1435, [31].)


The main info:

And now, here's some info that relates directly to the OP's question:

Can we use verb "Go" in passive voice?

Many different kinds of elements in an active voice sentence can be made into the subject of a corresponding passive voice sentence, such as:

  1. direct object of monotransitive clause,

  2. indirect object and direct object of ditransitive clause,

  3. object of a preposition (w.r.t. prepositional passive), <== This relates directly to the OP's question.

  4. subordinate clause complements.

Here are some examples for the above four types of passivization:

  1. For direct object of monotransitive clause,

    active: The hail damaged [the car].

    passive: [The car] was damaged by the hail.

  2. For indirect object (I.O.) and direct object (D.O.) of ditransitive clause,

    active: My father gave [me] [this watch].

    passive of I.O.: [I] was given [this watch] by my father.

    passive of D.O.: %[This watch] was given [me] by my father.

    Note that the passive of D.O. is marked as % to indicate that it is hardly possible for AmE, and even in BrE is acceptable in only a limited range of cases (2002 CGEL, page 1432).

  3. For object of a preposition (w.r.t. prepositional passive),

    active: Someone has slept in [this bed].

    passive: [This bed] has been slept in.

  4. For subordinate clause complements,

    active: You can't avoid [paying taxes].

    passive: [Paying taxes] can't be avoided.

(Note that the above list and examples were borrowed from the 2002 CGEL, pages 1431-5.)

  1. And here are some more examples of passives:

    i. The police are thought to have arrested the thief.

    ii. The thief is thought to have been arrested.

    iii. That bed is thought to have been slept in by George Washington.

    iv. It is thought that the police have arrested the thief.

    v. It is thought that the thief has been arrested.

    vi. It is thought so.

    vii. It is thought that this bed has been slept in by George Washington.


Earlier in this post, there were examples of prepositional passives that used the verb lexeme "GO" as the lexical verb. And so, that will probably be sufficient for the OP's concern (or so I hope).

As to the topic of prepositional passives, that can get a bit involved. For instance, there are constraints on those types of passives. And it seems that some transitive active voice clauses can have a corresponding prepositional passive (usually it's intransitive active voice clauses that have corresponding prepositional passives). But perhaps that's for a different question, or for a different day, or for a different answer post.


There's info on the prepositional passive in ASITEG, pages 244-5, and on passives in general on pages 240-7.

And there's info on the prepositional passive in CGEL, pages 1433-4, 1447, and on passives in general on pages 1427-47, and some more info on pages 246-7, "Correspondence to passive subject".


NOTE: ASITEG is the 2005 textbook by Huddleston and Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar.

NOTE: The 2002 CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

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    @DCShannon I suspect one problem is that you probably aren't familiar with the prepositional passive. Also, you really shouldn't erase your previous comments, for they could be valuable for other readers, for many English learners do have difficulty understanding the passive, and by them reading this comment trail, including your comments and my comments, they might find it educational and helpful in understanding the passive. – F.E. Jul 18 '15 at 5:08
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    Well, I see that a bunch of my comments got deleted by unknown powers. I thought that comment trail was informative, and could have been educational for many, even though it ended up being mostly only one side of the conversation (as the other party had deleted their comments). – F.E. Jul 18 '15 at 10:57
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    Without the previous comments it's hard to be sure, but it seems like there was an argument over whether these examples are really of the verb "to go"? It's a shame the comments are gone, because I think it's very important to note that "to go" can't be passive on its own (because it's always intransitive on its own)... but as part of a phrase like "to go through" or "to go to [effort, trouble]", it can be. – Tim Pederick Jul 18 '15 at 14:17
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    @F.E. I would analyse both of those as the phrase "to go without". And if we chop that part off, e.g. "He went twenty miles", I would still not call "twenty miles" the direct object of "to go" (so "twenty miles was gone by him" would not be a correct sentence, although it would be interpretable). I think it's, at best, an indirect object: "He went [for] twenty miles". But hey, I don't have a copy of CGEL; this is just my interpretation, and I'm nobody's grammatician. – Tim Pederick Jul 19 '15 at 8:34
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    @TimPederick Your theory seems fairly reasonable. However, there's quite a few verbs that take DO's that can't be passivised successfully either. For example, He has a brother ---> * A brother is had by him. So perhaps that isn't the best test ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 19 '15 at 11:14
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'Go' on its own is intransitive.

Be careful not to confuse it with phrasal verb variations.

'Go through' is a phrasal verb and takes an object. It means 'examine' or 'explain'.

Other phrasal verbs with 'go' have entirely different meanings than just 'go' on its own. (e.g. Go into, go after, etc.) Some of these can be transitive.

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    Er, so are you saying that "GO" can or cannot be used in passive voice? – F.E. Jul 20 '15 at 20:47
  • @F.E. He's saying that when 'go' is intransitive it cannot, but when it is in a phrasal verb, then maybe. – Mitch Oct 20 '15 at 18:20
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QUESTION: Can we use verb "Go" in passive voice?

Here, in this post, I'll show that "GO" can be in passive voice by showing an active/passive pair of sentences, where the direct object of "GO" of an active sentence is passivized to create that passive version.

Consider the context of where a family is on a road trip, the parents up front driving, the children in the back. The following two examples use the verbs "went" and "gone" of the verb lexeme "GO":

  1. "They went [twenty-five miles] before they knew it." <-- active

  2. "[Twenty-five miles] were gone before they knew it." <-- passive

and compare them to versions that use the verb lexeme "TRAVEL" instead of "GO":

  1. "They traveled [twenty-five miles] before they knew it." <-- active

  2. "[Twenty-five miles] were traveled before they knew it." <-- passive

The "GO" versions appear to have meanings similar to their corresponding "TRAVEL" versions: actives #1 with #3, and passives #2 with #4.

Note that the active-voice versions #1 and #3 are transitive; and their direct objects are realized by the noun phrase (NP) "twenty-five miles". That NP becomes the subject in the two passive-voice versions (#2 and #4).

And so, it seems that example #2:

  1. "[Twenty-five miles] were gone before they knew it." <-- passive

does use "GO" in passive voice.

Note: Some might be wondering if an adjective "gone" is actually being used in example #2 "[Twenty-five miles] were gone before they knew it." That issue is looked into within the following "LONG VERSION" of this answer post.

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LONG VERSION:

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Here, I'll go into more grammatical depth in a process of finding a passive example of "GO" that isn't a prepositional passive. This process involves the passivization of the direct object of "GO" of an active clause.

Note: One bugbear of a problem is that there are many adjectives that have the same shape as a past-participle verb. This means that some clauses which appear to have the form of a passive clause might actually be active clauses that use an adjective.

Here are some potential candidates that might be "GO" passives:

  1. "It was gone." <-- (Something was no longer here.)

  2. "His chore to mow the lawn was gone." <-- (Someone had removed that chore from his list.)

  3. "Twenty-five miles were gone before they knew it." <-- (A family is on a road trip.)

There are at least three categories that have the word "gone":

  • preposition: as a past-participle shaped preposition.

  • adjective: as a past-participle shaped adjective.

  • verb: as a past-participle verb form.

note: A past participle is a verb form (i.e. a verb). It is not an adjective, nor is it a preposition. Though, be aware that it is a common practice to refer to an adjective having a past-participle shape as a "past-participle adjective".


PREPOSITION "gone":

This is a preposition that is rather limited in usage. Its usage is limited to informal style, and limited to BrE dialects of today's standard English.

Here's a related excerpt from the 2002 CGEL, page 611:

The main prepositions that are homonymous with the gerund-participle or past participle forms of verbs are as follows:

  • [24] according & T . . . given . . . gone & BrE . . . granted

The symbol '&' indicates that the preposition differs in complementation and/or meaning from current usage of the verb: we have prepositional according to Kim but not verbal *They accorded to Kim, and so on.

Gone differs from given and granted in that the corresponding verb is not understood passively; it is used, in informal style, with expressions of time or age as complement: We stayed until gone midnight ("after"); He's gone 60 ("over").

And that seems to be all that we need to know about the preposition "gone". It probably won't be mentioned again in the rest of this post.


ADJECTIVE "gone":

This adjective is a member of the class of past-participle adjectives.

Here's a related excerpt from the 2002 CGEL, page 541:

Past participles following be have a passive rather than perfect interpretation and (leaving aside cases of semantic specialization as in the drunk example [ He was drunk -- f.e.] ) the same normally applies to corresponding adjectives. Thus distressed in [35] denotes a state resulting from being distressed in the passive verbal sense.

There are, however, a few exceptions. Kim is retired, for example, means that Kim is in the state resulting from having retired. Similarly, They are gone means that they are in the state resulting from having gone or departed. [fn 5]

So, the adjective "gone" in their example "They are gone" has a perfect interpretation, not a stative passive one that is usually found with past-participle adjectives.

Notice that their example is similar to example #1:

  1. "It was gone." <-- (Something was no longer here.)

And so, the word "gone" in example #1 is probably an adjective (just as it was in CGEL's example They are gone).

Also, here's their footnote 5 on page 541:

The adjective gone also has various specialized meanings in informal style, including "pregnant" (cf. She's five months gone) and "infatuated" (cf. He's quite gone on her).

A verbal passive can have either a dynamic or a stative interpretation. And often it can be difficult to figure out whether a clause is a verbal passive clause with a stative interpretation, or an active clause with a past-participle adjective (adjectival passive). Many times a clause can be ambiguous as to interpretation, where it is understood that the clause can support both interpretations.

There are a handful of grammar tests that are often used to provide evidence w.r.t. a verbal passive versus an adjectival passive (adjective). Many times these tests can be helpful. But many times it can still be unclear. And many times a clause can be considered to be ambiguous.

But the adjective "gone" is unusual for a past-participle adjective, because it doesn't have a stative passive interpretation. Rather, it has a perfect interpretation. Because of this, it might be easier to differentiate verbal passive clauses from clauses that use the adjective. But we shall see.


VERB "gone":

The rest of this post will mostly deal with the verb "gone": though, the adjective "gone" will be important in the discussion here too.

Differentiating between a past-participle verb and a past-participle adjective can often involve that bugbear of an issue: verbal passive versus adjectival passive. A verbal passive clause can often have either a dynamic interpretation or a stative interpretation. But a clause using an adjectival passive can only have a stative interpretation (w.r.t. that adjective). And so this means, that just because a clause has a stative interpretation, that does not rule out the possibility of the clause being a passive.

But since the adjective "gone" has a perfect interpretation, not a stative passive interpretation, then, hopefully that'll make things easier in attempting to differentiate the verb from the adjective.

Now, let's look at example #3:

  1. "Twenty-five miles were gone before they knew it." <-- (A family is on a road trip.)

Its subject is the expression "twenty-five miles", which is a measure phrase NP. A measure phrase NP can often easily function as a subject or object of a clause.

In example #3, the word "gone" has a verbal interpretation similar to that of the verb "traveled" in the passive "Twenty-five miles were traveled before they (even) knew it." Let's look at that "traveled" passive and its corresponding active:

  • A. "They traveled [twenty-five miles] before they knew it." <-- active

  • B. "[Twenty-five miles] were traveled before they knew it." <-- passive

and compare them to the versions that use "GO" instead of the verb "TRAVEL":

  • C. "They went [twenty-five miles] before they knew it." <-- active

  • D. "[Twenty-five miles] were gone before they knew it." <-- passive? (same as #3)

The "GO" versions appear to have the same meanings as their corresponding "TRAVEL" versions: active #A with #C, and passive #B with #D.

This supports the argument that the verb ("went") in #C and the word ("gone") in #D are also both verbs, just like how the verbs ("traveled") in #A and #B are both verbs. Since #C ("went") is in active voice, then #D ("gone") would then be in passive voice and that means that the word "gone" would be the past-participle verb "gone".

In other words: since example #3 has an active/passive pair with corresponding meanings (#C and #D), it seems that the word "gone" in example #3 can be interpreted as a verb, and so, it is reasonable to consider example #3 as a verbal passive.

Note that the active-voice clause version #C is transitive; and its direct object is that NP "twenty-five miles". That seems to be rather straightforward, especially since the direct object can be easily passivized (as is seen in the passive version #D).


CONCLUSION: I think this post has provided sufficient evidence to show that example #3 at the top of this post could be seen to be a verbal passive:

  1. "Twenty-five miles were gone before they knew it." <-- (A family is on a road trip.)

In that example, the word "gone" has a verbal interpretation similar to that of the verb "traveled" in the passive "Twenty-five miles were traveled before they (even) knew it."

And so, it does seem that the verb "GO" can be used in passive voice, where its subject is the passivized direct object of a corresponding active voice version (an active: "They went twenty-five miles before they knew it").

But perhaps a counter-argument to all this could be that example #3 is similar in structure to: "They were gone", which uses an adjective "gone". Consider:

  • The family had just begun a long road trip. To keep themselves entertained, the children played Punch Bug. One mile was traveled, then two. The children were getting quite loud. They were gleefully punching away on each other's arms. Before the children knew it, twenty-five miles were gone. They were gone because the children had been kept occupied.

The first "gone" has the meaning of the verbal "traveled"; and so, it is the verb "gone" and is in a passive clause. The second "gone" seems to be an adjective "gone"; but its sentence doesn't (?) seem to work here in this context. Its subject NP "They" seems to be trying to use the previous "twenty-five miles" as its antecedent, and trying to describe its referent as being in a state that had resulted after having gone or departed. But that adjectival use of "gone" doesn't seem to work here.

And so, er, . . . :D


ASIDE: This post has also shown that "GO" can head a transitive clause:

  • "They went [twenty-five miles] before they knew it."

with the measure phrase NP "twenty-five miles" as its direct object.


EXTRA STUFF:


Let's look at example #2:

  1. "His chore to mow the lawn was gone." <-- (Someone had removed that chore from his list.)

It means that that specific chore was removed from a list of chores; that is, that someone had removed or deleted that chore from the list. An active voice sentence that somewhat corresponds to example #2 could be something like "Someone [ removed / deleted / *went ] his chore to mow the lawn from his list." (Note that "went" doesn't work in that last example.)

But in a way, it seems that that item (chore) has metaphorically taken itself off his list of chores (and it did this by itself or with outside assistance); that is, that item is now in the state resulting from having departed, or having left, the list. And so, example #2 seems to be in active voice that is using an adjective "gone".

In other words, the word "gone" in example #2 is probably an adjective. It seems similar to "It was gone"--which is using the adjective "gone" to describe the state that a referent (corresponding to "It") is in after having gone or having departed.


Perhaps seeing a measure phrase NP functioning as a clausal direct object or subject might seem to be a bit unusual. But NPs that function as direct objects, w.r.t. syntax, might often seem to be a bit unusual in various constructions.

Consider the cognate object:

  • He grinned a wicked grin.

  • She always dreams the same dream.

Sometimes the active voice might not have an acceptable passive: A wicked grin was grinned, which would probably be unacceptable in the usual normal contexts. Anyway, the NP "a wicked grin" is a rather unusual object.

Consider object of conveyed reaction:

  • She smiled her assent.

For this specific example, the NP "her assent" cannot be passivized: *Her assent was smiled, which is ungrammatical.

note: The above examples were borrowed from the 2002 CGEL, page 305.


The verb "GO" is a rather unusual verb, in that it has many different uses. Consider: "Tom will be going to town soon", "Sue went and told the teacher". And because "GO" is rather unusual, that would probably make any analysis a bit more difficult, perhaps.


NOTE: The 2002 CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

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"Go" is an intransitive verb. An intransitive verb expresses an action that happens by itself. The verb is not used with an object (does not take an object); therefore, no passive form can be used.
As for your second question, "He doesn't have a bike." is correct. In the interrogative and negativeform, the verb is always "have".

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"go" is an intransitive verb. You can not change it into the passive voice.

Have as a verb means to own or possess. We use "has" for he, she, it (third person singular) when the sentence is affirmative and present simple. On the other hand, we use "have" when the sentence is in the negative or in the interrogative. So, correct sentence is "He doesn't have a bike.

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The milk is gone - this is no passive. "gone" in this sentence has the character of an adjective meaning: There is no more milk, we have run out of milk.

Actually this is old language and goes back to times when the perfect tense of verbs of movement was formed with to be, not to have. This is still the normal system in German. The actual and word-for-word meaning of "The milk is gone" is "The milk has gone (out)".

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In this case 'go' is future tense, So for example. "The man needs to GO somewhere." Where as present tense would look like. "the man is GOING somewhere." And the past tense would look like. "the man has GONE somewhere." So 'go' could only be used in future tense but if you need to use past tense you would say 'gone.'

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