Thursday, March 01, 2007

got passive

While I know that English teachers discourage the use of the passive, and with good reason, sometimes we just have to use it. The most common form of the passive voice involves using a form of be with a past participle.

We were married in Manila.
Taxes were raised while we weren't looking.

We can use another auxiliary verb in passives. The word is get.

ESL Gold has a short description of the get passive form with the following explanation.
Get is often used in idiomatic expressions. For example,
What time will you get done? (What time will you be finished?)
James got drunk at the party. (He became drunk at the party.)
I hope you get better soon. (I hope you become well soon.)
We got engaged last week.(We became an engaged couple.)

This is a nice starting point. However, Julie Sevastopoulous provides a more complete explanation. In addition, the site has some good images to support the explanations. On this site, Julie explains and illustrates uses of the get passive.

The get passive is used for an unexpected action: "He got hit by a water balloon tossed from the balcony."

It is also used to show a change of status: "We got married in Manila."

These are used in addition to the common expression as illustrated above. The site also has a nice quiz at the bottom to try out some of these expressions.

Another site with a quiz can be found at