Date of Thesis

Spring 2022


This thesis discusses the Mandarin Chinese passive, a construction that differs in significant ways from its better known, European counterparts. While the passive is one of the most well-studied constructions in syntax, the passive in Chinese remains understudied and not as well understood. The thesis offers an analysis of multiple passive markers in Chinese, focusing on bei and gei. Superficially, the two markers both participate in passive and passive-like constructions. However, upon closer scrutiny, it is demonstrated that only bei qualifies as a true passive marker, while gei is shown to belong to a more general category of Non-Active Voice, which is elaborated in the thesis. It is demonstrated that bei and gei differ significantly in their distribution. While bei is used strictly in those environments that allow the passive cross-linguistically, gei distributes more broadly, across a range of non-active constructions that are incompatible with the passive voice. It is argued that bei and gei, and possibly other functional verbal markers, are simply instantiations of a more general Non-Active Voice in Chinese. A main goal of the thesis is to provide a formal, structural definition of Non-Active Voice, which unifies bei and gei constructions under a single structural description that makes a unique contribution to a more general Voice typology.


syntax, passive, Mandarin Chinese, Voice

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration


First Advisor

James E. Lavine

Second Advisor

Heidi Lorimor