09. The Grammar Problems of Birth, Marriage and Death

(1) Birth


The teacher was born in 1947

Where were you born?


Born is an adjective. It is actually the past participle adjective of the verb bear/bore/born, which has an older meaning of “to give birth to.”


(active voice)

My grandmother bore nine children, but only four of them lived to grow up.


Nowadays, this verb in the active voice is rather old-fashioned. We are more likely to say

My grandmother had nine children, or

My grandmother gave birth to nine children.


(2) Marriage


The teacher never got married.

She is not married.

George married Sue.

How long have you been married?

When are they planning to get married?


Marry is a transitive verb:

He wants to marry me, but I don’t want to marry him.


The expression get married is intransitive. It refers to the specific event of a wedding.

We got married in 1993.

He never wants to get married.


The past participle adjective married is used with the helping verb to be. It refers to the condition of being married.

I’m married.

They have been married for nine years.


(3) Death


My grandfather died before I was born.

He has been dead for more than 60 years.


 Die is an intransitive verb. It refers to the specific event. Because it is intransitive, it can have no passive form.

Dead is an adjective. It is not a past participle. It refers the condition of not being alive.

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