Passive infinitive and gerund in English

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passive infinitive and gerund in English
passive infinitive and gerund in English

This post helps us understand what passive infinitives and gerunds are, why to use gerunds and infinitives in the passive voice, and how to do it.

Passive infinitive and gerund

A verb is used in the passive voice when the object (the receiver of the action) is more important than the subject (doer of the action). A sentence in the passive voice indicates that the object is being acted upon.

Both gerunds and infinitives are verb forms. They, too, are used in both the active voice and the passive voice.

A gerund is a progressive form of a verb that works as a noun, and an infinitive is formed using the particle ‘to’ and a base form of a verb ‘V1’. It can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

passive infinitive and gerund infographic in English
passive infinitive and gerund infographic in English

What is a passive gerund?

A passive gerund is a gerund in the passive voice. It focuses on the receiver of the verb (gerund) and functions as a noun.

A gerund can be used in place of the subject, subject complement, object of the verb, and object of the preposition as it functions as a noun.

Teaching you is exhausting.

Here, teaching you is the subject. The speaker is calling an action exhausting, an action the speaker does. The gerund is in the passive voice.

Being taught by you is exhausting.

Being taught by you is the subject in the sentence. Here, the speaker is calling an action exhausting that is acted upon them. Teaching you does not make the speaker exhausting; Being taught by you (receiving the action) makes me exhausting.

More examples:

1. I love being called Babu by my mother.

(Here, I love an action that my mother performs on me. The passive gerund is the object of the verb love. You can love doing something too (active voice), but here, I love an action that I receive. It can be written as following: I love that my mother calls me Babu.)

2. My parents didn’t appreciate being questioned.

(My parents didn’t appreciate what? They didn’t appreciate an action someone performed upon them (receiving an action). This can be written as following too: My parents didn’t appreciate that someone questioned them.)

3. We are not excited about being taken to the function.

(The passive gerund phrase is the object of the preposition about. We are not unexcited about doing something, we are unexcited about receiving an action.)

4. Ashish is proud of being hired by Samsung India.

(The speaker is proud of an action that he received.)

5. Being fired from the job is a thought that often scares me.

(Receiving an action, which is getting fired, scares the speaker here in the sentence. The passive gerund refers to an action that the subject receives, not performs.)

6. We all hate being lied to.

(We hate receiving the action of lying. The passive gerund is the object of the verb ‘hate‘.)

Types of passive gerunds

There are two types of gerunds in English:

  1. Simple gerund
  2. Perfect gerund

Both the gerund types can be used in the active voice and the passive voice.

Simple gerund

It is a gerund form that refers to the present time or the same time the main verb of the sentence refers to.

Structures:

Active voice (AV): V1+ing
Passive voice (PV): Being + V3 (past participle)

Examples:

AV: I enjoy teaching you.
PV: I enjoy being taught by you.

AV: I am not thinking about going there.
PV: I am not thinking about being killed there.

AV: Judging people on the basis of how they look is stupid.
PV: Being judged by other all the time hampers your confidence.

Perfect gerund

A perfect gerund is a gerund type that refers to a past action. The time it refers to is always prior to the time the main verb of the sentence refers to.

Structures:

Active voice (AV): having + past participle (v3)
Passive voice (PV)
: having + been + past participle (v3)

Examples:

AV: We are really proud of having confronted him.
PV: We are really embarrassed about having been confronted by him.

AV: She admitted having stolen his money.
PV: She admitted having been approached by a friend of mine.

AV: They surprised me by having won the award.
PV: I am not surprised about having been fired from the job. My manager always had a problem with my way of working.

What is a passive infinitive?

A passive infinitive is an infinitive in the passive form. An infinitive is formed using the particle ‘to’ and a base form of verb ‘V1’. It can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

Forms of infinitives in English

  1. Simple infinitive
  2. Continuous infinitive
  3. Perfect infinitive
  4. Perfect continuous infinitive

All of these can be used in the active voice, but only the simple infinitive and the perfect infinitive can also be used in the passive voice.

Simple Infinitive

It is a verbal (non-finite verb) that refers to the present time in general or the same time (or close) the main verb of the sentence refers to.

Active voice: to + v1
Passive voice: to + be + past participle (v3)

I don’t like to abuse people.

Here, the infinitive (object of the verb ‘like’) is in the active voice. It focuses on the doer of the action (abuse), which is the subject. The subject dislikes an action that he performs.

I don’t like to be abused. (passive voice)

Here, the infinitive focuses on the receiver of the action (abuse) in the infinitive phrase, which is the subject. I (the subject) hate an action that is acted upon me; I don’t perform it.

She wants to promote Jon.

The speaker wants an action that she performs. The infinitive is in the active voice as we are focusing on the doer of the action (promote).

She wants Jon to be promoted. (passive voice)

‘To be promoted’ is the passive infinitive here. It focuses on the receiver of the action promote. The receiver of the action is mentioned in the sentence too. But notice that we haven’t mentioned the doer of the action as it’s not what we focus on in the passive voice. Here’s how the sentence will look like if we add the doer of the infinitive: She wants Jon to be promoted by the management.

More examples of passive infinitive (simple):

  1. To be loved by everyone is a great feeling.
  2. To be appreciated is what I want.
  3. We want to be acknowledged for what we have done for the company.
  4. The problem needs to be solved right now.
  5. No one wants to be beaten.
  6. I am happy to be fired from the job.
  7. I think she wants to be awarded.
  8. We are delighted to be given this job.

Perfect Infinitive

A perfect infinitive is a form of infinitive that refers to a past action. It can be used in both the active voice and the passive voice.

Active voice: to + v1
Passive voice: to + be + past participle (v3)

We are proud to have helped the kid.

To have helped the kid is a passive infinitive phrase. It refers to a past action which was performed by the subject.

We are happy to have been helped by the government. (passive voice)

We are happy about something, an action that got acted upon us by the government. It can be written as: We are happy that the government helped us. It can also be written as: We are happy that we were helped by the government.

You seem to have annoyed him.

To have annoyed him is the passive infinitive in the perfect form. It refers to an action that the subject performed in the past.

You seem to have been annoyed by him. (passive voice)

Here, the infinitive is in the passive form. It refers to an action that the subject received: it focuses on the receiver of the action.

More examples:

  • I am glad to have been called here.
  • She seemed upset to have been called at that time.
  • You appeared to have been annoyed by his antics.
  • He did not appreciate to have been hugged.

Practice set!

Fill in the blanks with using the suitable verbal (infinitive or gerund in the right form) in parenthesis.

  1. We love _____ to this place. (go)
  2. ___ is my passion. (teach)
  3. I hate ___ names. (call)
  4. We don’t care about ___ (judge). We do what we want to do.
  5. I wanted ___ in that situation. I was alone. (help)
  6. He is glad ___ by us. (select)
  7. I regret ____ (talk) to him.
  8. No one is interested in ____ your story. (know)
  9. ____ changed my life. (learn)
  10. We are still upset about ______. (arrest)
  11. Some of us need __ how to do this. (teach)
  12. You seem ___ a lot. (beat)

We, now, know what a passive infinitive and gerund is and how to use them correctly. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at englishwithashish@gmail.com.

FAQs

What is passive infinitive?

A passive infinitive is an infinitive in the passive voice. It focuses on the receiver of the action (infinitive). There are two types of passive infinitives: simple passive infinitive (to + be + past participle) and perfect passive infinitive (to + have + been + past participle)

Examples:
1. I like to be helped sometimes.
2. I feel ashamed to have been beaten by that kid.

How do you use passive gerund in a sentence?

A passive gerund is used when the focus is on the receiver of the action (gerund). It is formed using (being + past participle) in simple form and (having + been + past participle) in perfect form.

Examples:
I love being challenged.
I don’t regret having been cornered.

How is a passive gerund formed?

A passive gerund is formed using (being + past participle) in simple form and (having + been + past participle) in perfect form.

What is perfect passive infinitive?

A perfect passive infinitive is a form of infinitive in the passive voice. It refers to an action in the past. It is formed using the following structure: to + have + been + past participle

Examples:
1. You seem to have been tortured a lot.
2/ I am glad to have been fired.

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