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Hello, it's me again (Who? Emotion: stick out tongue). I often come across kind of sentences like these:
- This book is easy to read
- That cake is easy to make
- I have so much work to do.

My question is why are they used active? Why not passive like to be read, to be made and to be done? Thank you in advance for your explanation.
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Comments  
Kanadeva- This book is easy to read- That cake is easy to make- I have so much work to do.
These are call "middle voice" sentences which appear to be active in form but connote passiveness.
KanadevaThis book is easy to read
It would be extremely awkward if written in full passive form: This book is easy to be read.
Thank you, dimsumexpress. Is it also applicable to "John is easy to please"? Is it impossible to be active? Then how do we say if we want to say it in active meaning? I mean how do we distinguish that such of sentences have active or passive meaning (especially when the subject is a person)?
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dimsumexpressThese are call "middle voice"
Should be "these are called ..... "
KanadevaI mean how do we distinguish that such of sentences have active or passive meaning (especially when the subject is a person)?
As you discovered, there are many such uses in natural English. Distinguishing them isn't difficult if you know your passive voice.
KanadevaIs it also applicable to "John is easy to please"?
Yes.
KanadevaIs it impossible to be active?
I would say "yes" if you meant "100% acting.
Thank you.
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Anytime!Emotion: yes
In my opinion, the first two sentences are examples of adjectival phrases, where "easy to read" and "easy to make" are the adjectival phrases there.

This place is nice. (a single adjective)
This place is nice to live in. ("nice to live in" is an adjectival phrase)
This place is nice to be lived in. (obviously wrong; passive voice can't be applied to an adjectival phrase)

This, I think, has nothing to do with active voice vs passive voice as sentences like this one can't normally be converted into passive form.

In sentences resembling your third one (noun + infinitive), it seems that passive voice is possible only when the infinitive is attached semantically to the noun preceding it rather than to the subject.

I have so much work to do. ("to do" is attached semantically to "I" so no passive is possible)

but

There's so much work to be done/to do. ("to be done/to do" is attached semantically to "work")
Just one additional note.
Depending on the adjectival phrase used, a passive or active sense can be implied (as Dimsum suggested).

He's easy to please. (passive sense)

He's eager to help. (active sense)
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