Active sentences with two objects in Passive

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Two objects in an active sentences – two possible passive sentences

When there are two objects in an active sentence, there are two possible active sentences and two possible passive sentences.

  • Sentence 1: The professor gave the students the books.
  • Sentence 2: The professor gave the books to the students.

There are two objects in each of the following sentences:

  • Object 1 = indirect object → the students
  • Object 2 = direct object → the books

An indirect object is very often a person, a direct object a thing. When a direct object is followed by an indirect one, we put to in front of the indirect object.

Active sentence 1

Subject Verb indirect Object direct Object
The professor gave the students the books.

Active sentence 2

Subject Verb direct Object indirect Object with to
The professor gave the books to the students.

Each of the objects (books/students) in the active sentences can become subject in the passive sentence.

Passive sentence 1

Subject Verb Object (by-agent)
The students were given the books. (by the professor).

Passive sentence 2

Subject Verb Object (by-agent)
The books were given to the students (by the professor).

Passive sentence 1 is sometimes called Personal passive.


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