Are these correct:

1) The car he was driving was stolen when he stopped at a rest area to go to the restroom.

2) The police stopped him because the car he was driving was stolen. He claimed that he'd borrowed it from a friend.

3) Her ring was stolen. It was given to her by her boyfriend who was a burglar.

I didn't come up with this question myself. I am plagiarizing a good friend of mine who came up with it. I had missed this one!

 

Gratefully,

Navi

 

Original Post

Personally, Navi, I see nothing wrong with any of your three sentences, the only difference being that in (1) "stolen" is the past participle in a passive voice structure that refers to the moment when the crime took place (Somebody stole the car -> The car was stolen), while in (2) and (3) "stolen" is an adjective in a copulative structure (the car and the ring had been stolen at some previous time, and were therefore stolen, that is, of illegal origin).

navi posted:

Are these correct:

1) The car he was driving was stolen when he stopped at a rest area to go to the restroom.

2) The police stopped him because the car he was driving was stolen. He claimed that he'd borrowed it from a friend.

3) Her ring was stolen. It was given to her by her boyfriend who was a burglar.

Hello, Navi,

What a fine collection of specimens you have assembled for us here!

Examples (1) and (2) are of course correct, but "was stolen" is clearly functioning differently in each. In (1), "was stolen" is a passive verb phrase relating to a stealing event, which happened while he was at a rest area.

In (3), "was stolen" is, I would argue, not a passive verb phrase at all but, rather, a linking verb ("was") followed by "stolen" as an adjective. Indeed, we could rephrase the end of the first sentence like this: "he was driving a stolen vehicle."

Example (3) I dislike, perhaps mainly because if her boyfriend stole the ring then it was never his to give away! But you've also used "her ring" in that one, which implies that it was hers. The first sentence of (3) could be revised like this:

  • The ring she was wearing was stolen goods

That construction may be a bit old-fashioned (see this, for example), but I like it.

Thank you both very much,

The problem seems to be sentence '3'. At first, I really thought it could work, although I knew that I was sort of pushing things! The more I think about it, the more I have doubts. Gustavo doesn't seem to have a particular problem with it, but David does.

If I understand David's reply correctly, the problem with '3' is 'her'. That word implies that the ring did really belong to her. But then we learn that it didn't. There seems to be a contradiction. I thought that the meaning would be obvious and the contradiction would be dismissed as irrelevant. But that doesn't seem to be the case. The least one can say is that the contradiction does have a jarring effect. 

When I came up with that sentence I was wondering whether one could interpret 'her ring' as 'the one she had at that time'. That one doesn't seem to be entirely satisfactory.

Being hard-headed, I've tried to come up with other examples where the contradiction seems less obvious to me. I wonder if the following examples work. I really had to stretch my  imagination and invent proper contexts for them. Without the contexts they might end up looking exactly like '3'. 

I understand that I am going off topic here. The issue is no longer the 'ed' form of verbs. We're focusing on possessive adjectives. (The truth is that I had crammed two questions into one, and complicated matters. We had two topics from the get-go!! )

My 'theory' now is that 'possession' is a relative concept. There are certain things that can be considered to be one's if one has them at the point we're speaking of. The ring is out. That one is problematic. But I am going to go on a limb one more time.  

Anyway, here goes:

 

4) I grabbed his shirt, which he had stolen from my brother. (the shirt he was wearing)

5) I noticed that he was wearing Tim's watch. I grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket and ended up tearing it. Little did I know that his jacket was stolen too.

6) The robbers had planned everything. They haven't left the smallest clue for us. We have their truck, but their truck was stolen. It won't lead us to them.

Gratefully,

Navi

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