There exists an adjectival construction that resembles the passive voice superficially but is different in meaning; and it is important that teachers of deaf students recognize it. It is a construction using the verb to be with an adjective that is identical in form to a past participle. Note these examples:
1. The bank was closed all day yesterday. (= not open)
2. I was married for ten years. (= not single)
3. When I entered the room, I noticed that the chair was broken. (= not intact)
Although these constructions look identical to passive voice constructions, they do not express an action carried out on the subject of the sentence, they do not contain an explicit or implied agent, and they cannot be rewritten in the active voice. They merely describe the state or condition of the subject of the sentence.
Because they describe the state or condition of the subject of the sentence while resembling passive constructions superficially, some linguists call these constructions "stative passives" (Celse-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman, 1983).
Most stative passives have true passive counterparts as well, as in the three examples below:
1. The bank was closed at exactly 3 o’clock. (= Somebody closed it.)
This sentence clearly describes an action and can include a by-phrase, as in “The bank was closed at exactly 3 o’clock by the manager.” Its active counterpart would be “The manager closed the bank at exactly 3 o’clock.”
2. I was married in that chapel. (= Someone performed my wedding ceremony.)
This sentence also describes an action and can accept a by-phrase. “I was married in that chapel by a justice of the peace." Its active counterpart would be “A justice of the peace married me in that chapel last year.” These are true passive voice constructions.
3. The chair was broken by the weight of the sumo wrestler when he sat down on it. (= He broke it.)
The active counterpart would be “The weight of the sumo wrestler broke the chair when he sat down on it.”