Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 95
  1. #1
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    863
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default The book reads well.

    Is the sentence below correct?

    The book reads well.

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    19,448
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Yes

    It means that the author has written a smooth and elegant prose.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Is the sentence below correct?
    The book reads well.
    It is sometimes used as a colloquialism, but as books can't read - let alone do it well - it isn't really correct.

    "The child reads well"
    "The book reads well"

    'The book is a good read' would be better, "It's a good book" or "it's a well-written book" would be better still.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,310
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    I don't think its use should only be colloquial. I see no problem with the form; it's just a middle verb.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I don't think its use should only be colloquial. I see no problem with the form; it's just a middle verb.
    Even a middle verb has to relate to its subject. The construction might be the same:

    Glass breaks easily
    The book reads well

    but there is a difference: glass can break, but books can't read.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,310
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    I wouldn't make such a distinction to be honest; I can see your point, but it 'reads' naturally to me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I wouldn't make such a distinction to be honest; I can see your point, but it 'reads' naturally to me.
    In a normal conversation, or even in something written by a native speaker, I wouldn't make that distinction either.

    When a second language learner is asking, I think it is better to be a bit more strict. If Lenka chooses to be more relaxed about it that is okay - she is doing it from a position of knowledge.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,310
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    I don't agree. You said it was colloquial in usage, and I really do not think, and I teach in universities, that saying 'it reads well' would be marked down in a viva or a written exam, except on the grounds of lacking content. The form is fine IMO. If it is OK for a native, then it has to be OK for a non-native. It isn't dialect or non-standard and wouldn't be marked wrong in any exam that I teach. We can squabble about middle, ergative and other verbs, but who would put a red pen through it? Cambridge ESOL, Toefl, Ielts, etc, would all accept the form. It is not colloquial in the way that 'hiya' is; it would not be a great start to a job interview to use 'hiya', but where's the problem in saying 'the book reads well'? I see no sense in saying that non-native speakers are expected to show standards that are not expected of native speakers, and nothing to see that this is colloquial.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    Even a middle verb has to relate to its subject. The construction might be the same:

    Glass breaks easily
    The book reads well

    but there is a difference: glass can break, but books can't read.
    True. And I always thought 'middle voice' meant there wasn't an actor. However, I was wrong in thinking that. According to SIL (See link below), if it is a verb in the middle voice, then, yes, the subject would have to act, whereas if it's a verb in the mediopassive voice, the subject is not expressed and the verb has a stative meaning, which is what we have here with The book reads well. It's a mediopassive construct. Terminology.

    SIL LinguaLinks offers:
    Middle voice is a voice that indicates that the subject is the actor and acts

    * upon himself or herself reflexively, or
    * for his or her own benefit.
    Mediopassive voice is a passive voice in which the

    * verb has stative meaning, and
    * actor is not expressed.

    Additional examples
    These jeans wash easily.
    The soup eats like a hardy meal. <slogan>
    Ripe bananas don't peel all that good. <Americanism>
    That sentence reads like a waterfall of ideas.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    I don't agree. You said it was colloquial in usage
    I say it is colloquial because I have never actually heard anybody say it, though I have heard 1970s teenagers say 'the car drives well' so I put it in the same category.


    I see no sense in saying that non-native speakers are expected to show standards that are not expected of native speakers, and nothing to see that this is colloquial.
    Where did I say they were? I said they should be aware that is not standard (with a small 's') English, and then make up their own minds. I use plenty of non-standard, colloquial, or just plain trendy phrases, but I wouldn't stand in front of my students and tell them it is common usage and every native speaker in the world is using them. That, IMO, is both misleading and bad teaching.

    There is a huge difference between using unusual phrases for effect, and using them through ignorance.


    Casiopea...

    I could grow to like you!

    Mediopassive. You may be right, and I am not confident enough to say you are wrong .

    'The book reads well' is sometimes given as an example of mediopassive, on Wikipedia for instance, but I have a bit of trouble with the idea of 'read' having a stative meaning because it fails most of the Dowty tests for a stative verb.

    Specifically, 'read'
    1) occurs in a continuous form.
    2) can be used as an imperative.
    3) can be used as a complement of 'force'.

    which all indicate that it has no stative form.

    Compare with 'like' as an example, which we all know is stative and
    1) rarely occurs in the continuous ('I like you' not 'I am liking you')
    2) would sound ridiculous as an imperative
    3) makes little sense as a complement of 'force' ("I forced her to like beef"?)

Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. mini book report needs to be edit please
    By tofu in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Jan-2009, 21:45
  2. Whose is this book vs. Whos book is this
    By babyblue in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-Nov-2005, 06:32
  3. Children's Book
    By love-lee in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Sep-2005, 16:02
  4. What can I change with my book review?
    By kamel in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 24-Jan-2005, 21:34

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •