Passive sentences


A.     Read the following sentences:


1.     mara9I bolayu&.

‘I could speak.’


2.     mara9I bola; gyu&.

‘I spoke (though it was not my intention to do so).’


3.     mara9I bolay 2e.

‘I can speak (now).’


4.     kLaasma& bolay nih.

‘One should not speak in the class.’


5.     penma& gujratI -8avay 2e.

‘Gujarati has been taught in the Penn.’


Remember that Gujarati passive sentences differ from English passive sentences in many ways.


1.      In English, ‘Jack killed Jill’ and ‘Jill was killed by Jack’ mean almost the same thing. However, that is not the case in Gujarati. For an example sentence 1 indicates the ability of the speaker, 2 indicates that it was not in the speaker tried to remain silent but he could not, 3 indicates that the speaker was unable to speak but now he can, and the sentence 4 gives a mild command. In other words, ‘passive’ is not a good term to describe sentences 1-4. Some linguists call them ‘abilitative’ considering the + able meaning of such constructions.

2.      Following statements summarize the structure of the passive constructions:

  1. In 1-3, the subject takes -9I, an instrumental case, meaning ‘by’.
  2. In 4, there is no over subject. We drop it when the meaning of the sentence is applicable not to a specific person or people.
  3. The verbs take -Aa, the passive marker.
  4. In present tense, we use -y immediately after the passive marker -Aa. Examples:

1.     mara9I w&3ay 2e.

‘I can sleep (now).’


2.     mara9I kerI `vay 2e.

‘I can eat a mango.’


            However, we drop -y in negative sentences. Examples:


3.     mara9I w&3atu& n9I.

‘I am unable to sleep.’


4.     mara9I kerI `vatI n9I.

‘ I am unable to eat a mango.’


In 3 there is no object to agree with, therefore, the verb take neuter gender, while in 4 there is an object kerI (feminine, singular) to agree with. Therefore the verb `vatI.