Getting Married or Divorced? An activity for the passive voice with “get”

There’s often a lot of attention given to the be-passive. Would you like to offer your students some meaningful practice with the get-passive? Consider this activity.

Step 1 – Write a list of 12-15 verbs on the board. These verbs should lend themselves to forming passive constructions with get. Suggestions: marry, divorce, catch, stick, hit, arrest, accept, dress, hurt, lost, sunburn, elect, bore, kill, invite. (Note: Azar and Hagen offer a good list of common past participles with get in their fourth edition of Understanding and Using English Grammar.)

Step 2 – Divide students into small groups. Tell them they will play a short game in teams. You will list reasons for something happening, and they will identify the event by matching a verb from the list to the situation and describing the event with the get-passive.  Model one round with the verb “marry”. Tell them first to identify an appropriate verb based on a set of reasons, such as: (1) Because two people love each other. (2) Because two people want to want to spend the rest of their lives together. By the time you state this second reason, hands should go up and students should correctly state, “Marry”. Tell them the form of the answer must use the get-passive: “Why people get married.” Answers should not be called out. Hands should go up, and the first to provide the correct answer in the correct format earns a point for his/ her team.

Additional suggestions are here: Passive with Get_handout

Step 3 – In the same groups, have students write advice on an assigned topic. Use the same basic answers from Step 2. For example: Why People Get Married.  (1) If you want to get married, you need to plan where you and your spouse will live. (2) If you’re getting married, you should set a date for the wedding so that you have enough time to plan. Etc. In some cases, you’ll have to modify the topic. For instance, Why/ How People Get Sunburned could be changed to “How to Avoid Getting Sunburned”.

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