Passives with 'get'

Goals

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at passives.

First, let's briefly review our understanding of actives, and of passives and get-passives. 

In a standard active construction the Subject is the agent:

In a standard passive construction, the Subject is not the agent. A standard passive contains a form of be followed by a past participle:

Was is a form of be, and bitten is a past participle. Uncle Ahmed is the Subject but not the agent - he didn't do the biting. Instead, the snake did!

In a get-passive, be is replaced by get:

Now you are ready to begin the Activity with your students. The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The Activity page includes slides with examples drawn from our corpus of real language in use. The slides can be displayed on a whiteboard or projector. Each slide presents a standard passive and a get-passive. In fact, each pair of passives differs only in that the first contains be and the second contains get. Look at the slides with your students and do the following: 

After looking at all of the slides, can you summarise the similarities and differences between passives that include the word be (and is, am, are, etc.) and passives that include the word get? Students may notice any of the following, and may find additional points as well:

Now look through the slides again and ask the following questions:

Note that turning each statement into a question reveals grammatical differences between get-passives and standard passives.

Note that we cannot say *Got Uncle Ahmed bitten by the snake?.

Similarly, making each statement negative reveals a grammatical difference between the two types of examples.

With get-passives, we must insert the auxiliary verb do. With standard passives, we simply insert the negator not.

Finally, ask students to consider the following question:

In answering this question, students should consider their descriptions of each example in terms of grammatical similarities and differences and semantic similarities and differences. With this question, as with many questions in grammar, there is grey area - it isn't necessarily clear whether these examples belong in a single category or two categories, and linguists continue to debate this topic.

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Passives with 'get': Activity

Uncle Ahmed was bitten by the snake.
Uncle Ahmed got bitten by the snake.

A large house was demolished on Westmoreland Hill.
A large house got demolished on Westmoreland Hill.

These temples were abandoned in medieval times.
These temples got abandoned in medieval times.

I was given time to study.
I got given time to study.

They were soaked by the rain.
They got soaked by the rain.

One of his arms was stuck.
One of his arms got stuck.

The fridge was completely emptied out.
The fridge got completely emptied out.

The car was dented.
The car got dented.

I was sent home that night.
I got sent home that night.

They were put out of business.
They got put out of business.

This was hoovered yesterday.
This got hoovered yesterday.

She was hit by a car.
She got hit by a car.

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