The Expression of Passive Sense in Non-Finite Forms in English and German


John Partridge

University of Kent at Canterbury


This paper proceeds from the observation that whilst English has in general to mark with to be + Vpast participle for passive sense in the infinitive, this is not the case in German, where zu plus the infinitive in transitive verbs may be used to convey both active and passive senses of the verb concern. After examining some apparently deviant data from English, it moves on to a wide-ranging discussion of passive sense in various non-finite forms in English and German, looking at modal function in sein zu + Ven, the German sein zu + Ven construction and the gerundivally-derived zu + Vend adjective, gehören + Vpast participle, need/want + Ving, potential passive squishes and markedness in German and English, the use of the infinitive in causative and middle constructions in German, potential passives in compound nouns, a comparison of Vend and Ving. It concludes with a discussion of agency, subjecthood and process and takes an attenuated stance on the typological discussion triggered by Hawkins.
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