I don't understand why Change “I must go and look for my brothers.” from active voice to passive voice was migrated to ELL.

I know learners are more likely than native speakers to ask questions involving switching a statement from active to passive voice, and there would certainly be a strong case for migrating "trivial" questions in this general area (assuming ELU doesn't already have a suitable earlier question that would justify duplicate closevotes).

But it seems to me the specific example above isn't at all trivial - it's downright awkward, and imho it deserves the kind of detailed analysis ELU should be more geared up to provide. To my mind, a suitable response on ELL would simply be This sentence wouldn't normally use passive voice.

Just so it's clear what Up/Downvotes for this meta question should mean, I think the question should not have been migrated. So upvote if you agree, and downvote if you think migration was the right thing to do.

1 Answer 1


I migrated the question because it seems to be very basic.

As far as I could tell, the question required no deep insight into English, just a lesson in how to turn an active voice sentence into a passive one.

If I am wrong we can ask for it back.

  • Sounds good to me. I also thought "very basic" initially, simply because most questions about passive voice on ELU are relatively trivial. But then I realised that I personally don't really know how to answer this particular one, so I started composing a comment with my initial thoughts. By the time I was ready to click "Add Comment" the question had already been migrated, but by then I was pretty sure I didn't actually have a clue how to answer. I realise not exactly an "expert", but I'd have thought if I don't know something about English, it's probably more suitable for ELU than ELL Sep 22, 2015 at 18:20
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    Given that John Lawler has answered the question on ELL, and that it really was for someone learning English, I doubt that undoing the migration is an option. If you think that an answer exists that isn't suited for someone learning English, I will reopen the question here. Sep 22, 2015 at 21:32
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    I don't understand why the fact of John having answered (which wasn't the case when I originally raised the issue here) should make any different to the question of whether the migration was "correct" (or indeed, whether it should be "re-migrated" back). But there are currently 4 downvotes against only a single upvote for my position on this one. That, and the 6 upvotes for this answer, strongly suggest the site consensus favours your position. John's is an excellent answer though (as ever! :), so I'm quite happy we now have it on ELL. Sep 23, 2015 at 13:56
  • Good :D glad this is sorted. It wasn't so much John himself having answered, more that the answer has a good number of upvotes. Sep 23, 2015 at 14:02
  • Well, I take some consolation from the fact that my "initial musings" comment on the question said the example probably couldn't be converted to passive because [must] doesn't support a "direct object" (subsequently confirmed by John's without a direct object, Passive is impossible). It certainly didn't seem like a "Too Basic / General Reference" question at the time though. But perhaps it's for the best it's ended up on ELL though - doubtless they'll have more future questions where it can be cited in duplicate closevotes (why are incompetent TEFL teachers obsessed with "passivizing"?). Sep 23, 2015 at 17:49
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    @FumbleFingers I don't know if that's what John says 'cuz I don't have enough time to go and have a look. But if he does say that, it ain't krekt. No direct object, indirect object, complement of a preposition or NP in a complement clause, then no passive. But your intuitions were kind of on target. You are right this question would have been so much better here where the readership might be able to understand the metalanguage and got more from it. Questions about English grammar seem to be too much for this site nowadays it seems ... Sep 28, 2015 at 0:03
  • @Araucaria: There are only 7 votes (2 up, 5 down) to the question, and arguably votes on Matt's answer are irrelevant (they're probably from the same users, giving the same opinions in two different ways). So maybe it's fair to say not many ELU users care much one way or the other. Far be it from me to big myself up (I know I'm a linguistic ignoramus compared to may others here, including yourself! :) but the fact of the matter is I feel I couldn't have answered the Q adequately, and I still think that's a strong argument for saying "This is not a totally trivial learner's question". Sep 28, 2015 at 18:25
  • @FumbleFingers I agree. It's not a trivial learner's question. (Not that a learner's questions is trivial of course! It just might not be suitable ELU fodder) Sep 28, 2015 at 20:22

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