1

If I were to rewrite the following sentence using the passive voice, how should I rewrite it?

That university has English classes for people whose native language is not English.

I thought to the following sentence, but I was wondering if I could use something else instead of given.

English classes for people whose native language is not English are given from that university.

As side question, is programme more appropriate in this case, or is classes a better word?

8

In the US we typically say that classes are offered rather than given

The preposition will be by or at, not from.

What is offered is more likely to be courses than classes. Classes tends to be used more in secondary-school or non-academic contexts.

So:

English courses for people whose native language is not English are offered by that university.

But note: the passive is awkward in this instance. Other things being equal, English prefers to put “heavy” constituents—those with many words—at the end of a sentence rather than the beginning or middle, because the syntactic structure is most visible when the primary constituents are close together at the front. Compare the structures for the passive and active sentences:

[Subj English courses MinAdj for people whose native language is not English] [Verb are offered] [MajAdj by that university.]

[Subj That university] [Verb offers] [DirObj English courses MinAdj for people whose native language is not English.]

In the passive sentence, that's a long run from Subject to Verb. In this case you could get around this by moving the “minor” adjunct to the end:

English courses are offered by that university for people whose native language is not English.

[Subj English courses] [Verb are offered] [MajAdj by that university] [MinAdj for people whose native language is not English.]

  • In the third form, the MinAdj phrase is in position to modify university rather than courses. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Apr 24 '13 at 14:04
  • @jwpat7 Quite so; but in context few would read it in that sense; in fact, it would probably be read as modifying offer! ... But those are the pitfalls of "information packaging". Me, I'd just go with the active voice here. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 24 '13 at 15:55
  • As side question, what does the New York University site mean, when it says classes? – kiamlaluno Apr 25 '13 at 11:20
  • @kiamlaluno Note that it is capitalized: NYU Classes is a "learning management system" - a portal to instructional resources which is replacing the existing Blackboard system. It serves as a supplement to or replacement for classroom instruction. .. Class and course are both used in US college parlance, but course is more often employed for the semester-long unit of instruction, while class is more often used to designate a session or meeting of a course. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 25 '13 at 11:38

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