"The book is well sold"
How come 'sell' is a transitive verb and can't be used in passive form, yet in this instance can?
(haha. I'm actually a native English speaker, but I'm asking this for one of my friends who isn't, and I have no idea why this is the case.)
Yes, it could.
a well-sold book is one that sells well or (in other words) is sold in large numbers.
To my way of thinking, the answer to the question why? is that well contains a sense of being good or of existing in large numbers/in a vast amount; so, since you can say that she is well known (or she is a well-known writer) because of the fact that a lot of people know her, or that a diet is well balanced (or this is a well-balanced diet) due to the fact that the different parts of a diet put together are good for your health, you might actually treat that well in the sentence in question in just the same way. Of course, I may well be wrong, but this is how I look at it.
Last edited by engee30; 11-Apr-2009 at 15:03.
Ex: The book is green. <adjective: a green book>
Ex: The book is well sold. <adjective: a well-sold book>
If well sold is functioning adjectivally, then that would make the sentence active.
Ex: The book is well sold (by ...). <passive>
Ex: The book is well sold. <active; I'm not saying that it is active. It's just a thought, that's all>
What are your thoughts?
The book is well sold by... is purely passive.
The book is well sold is purely active, but in this case the verb is (not sell) tells us some more about the book itself (ie the book is a well-sold one); there's no action of selling involved.