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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Help with passive and transitive verbs

    "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.)

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    #2

    Smile Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    "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.)
    Put simply:
    The book is well sold (by the booksellers) means a lot of booksellers sell the book
    The book sells well means a lot of people buy the book


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    #3

    Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    "The book is well sold"

    How come 'sell' is a transitive verb and can't be used in passive form, ...
    Who says the verb to sell can't be used in passive constructions?

    Ex:
    Several years ago the company was sold to our competitors by a man from the East.

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    #4

    Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Put simply:
    The book is well sold (by the booksellers) means a lot of booksellers sell the book
    The book sells well means a lot of people buy the book

    Hi engee30

    In your opinion, could the adverb+past participle well sold function adjectivally; i.e., interpreted as the book is a well-sold book? Why, or why not?

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    #5

    Post Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    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.

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    #6

    Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Yes, it could.
    If so, then that would make the book is well sold active, not passive. Interesting.

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    #7

    Lightbulb Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    If so, then that would make the book is well sold active, not passive. Interesting.
    What makes you think that that sentence can be active?

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    #8

    Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    What makes you think that that sentence can be active?
    If passive, then well sold couldn't function adjectivally, right?

    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?

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    #9

    Post Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    If passive, then well sold couldn't function adjectivally, right?

    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?
    Well, I think that to be able to make an active sentence passive, there's no need for a passive sentence to be able to function adjectively, and vice versa.

    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.

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    #10

    Re: Help with passive and transitive verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post

    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.
    Yes! I'm glad you see the ambiguity also. There's no selling involved, meaning there's no agent, so no reason to assume passive voice. I wonder, how many people see a passive construct and how many see an active one?

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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