I know that the verb "sell" can have many different forms. I used to believe that someone sells something and something is sold by someone.

However, later I got to know that something can "sell", without having to be passive.

It's so confusing to me, as a non-English native.

Can anyone tell me in details about this word, seems like it's a lot more complicated than I thought


This is demonstrating the verb "sell" as an ergative verb.

Here is a detailed article on ergative verbs.


Both of these are common, but #2 and #3 are more from the realtor's perspective and #1 is from the owner's perspective.

I sold my house yesterday.
The house sold yesterday.
After being on the market for six months, the house finally sold for 10% less than the asking price.

Books that make the New York Times "best-seller" list sell very well.

See entry #3.


kenny1999However, later I got to know found out that something can "sell", without having to be passive.

'found out' is more idiomatic than 'got to know' even though both are correct.

You will hear that usage also called the "middle voice" or the "middle construction", most likely to indicate it's not completely active or passive. It's used with some verbs and often with the adverb "easily" or "well".

The meat cuts easily.
These cakes sell well.
Crystal breaks at the slightest touch.

Not with these verbs:

This story likes well.
The answers know easily.
The picture destroys quickly.


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kenny1999However, later I got to know that something can "sell", without having to be passive.

That is merely the intransitive use. Many verbs do that. Transitive then intransitive:

The pirate fired the cannon. The cannon fired with a roar.

The pilot flew the airplane. The airplane flew across the sky.

The chef baked the pie. The pie baked nicely in his new oven.

The salesman sold widgets. The widgets sold well in Poughkeepsie.

I do agree, though, that there is something different about "sell". All I can say is try to get used to it.

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The meat cuts easily??

sounds so odd to me!


The meat cuts easily??

sounds so odd to me!

It means that the meat is tender, not tough.

Cut is fine, but "chew" is not!

If I say "the meat is cut easily" does it mean that it can be torn apart easily with tool e.g. knives, rather than it is tender?

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.

It is easy to cut with a knife.

Tender: See definition C2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/tender?q=tender_1