Dec 19th, 2008, 06:09 am
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Join Date: Oct 8th, 2006
| | Re: Homonym Hardships
You're right - it's not an adjective. This is a passive construction so here it's a past participle.
The court fined them $50
They were fined $50 (by the court)
The confusion arises because past participles can have an adjectival function - for example I was surprised to hear that ...
How do you know which it is? Try adding very. If you can, then it's an adjective, if not a participle. So :
I was very surprised to hear that ... is fine, but *They were very fined is not. So surprised is acting adjectivally, while fined is a "straight" participle.
That anyway is the explanation (simplified a bit) that you'll find in the grammar books. I actually think it doesn't always stand up to investigation, but it works fine for this example.