+0
Please, explain me why the verb 'to sell' is used in active voice in such examples as 'the camera were not selling well', or 'the camera is selling well' - I am keen on photography, such examples I saw on english photographic sites several times. Why wasn't this used in a passive voice - 'the camera is being sold'?
1 2
Comments  
I can't explain why. It just happens to be one of the common uses of the verb. That is, it's both transitive and intransitive.
I believe the usage you cite would be used more often by retailers than by consumers.Emotion: nodding
But you may ask your friend in the store: "How are these selling?" (active, intransitive, present progressive)

I'm sure your dictionary will list an intransitive use.

Welcome to English Forums, Ruslan. Thanks for joining us!

Best wishes, - A.

Edit. My dictionary gives the second intransitive meaning as "to be sold," which of course is passive, recalling the wording of your question.
This is an example of "middle voice". It is restricted to cases where the object is affected by the verb.

The chef cuts the potato.
Potatoes cut easily.

Joseph broke the glass.

This kind of glass breaks at the slightest touch.

But not:

I know the answer.
*The answer knows easily.

CJ
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
CJ -- is this the same as "ergative verbs"?
CJ -- What would be the terms to describe "not middle voice"? Are there two extremes?? - A.
AvangiCJ -- What would be the terms to describe "not middle voice"? Are there two extremes?? - A.
Active voice and passive voice are "not middle voice". Actually, there is nothing in English that is a true middle voice formed with special endings, as there is in some other languages. This construction, also called "the middle alternation", is the closest thing English has to that kind of structure. The adverb "easily" is frequently seen in the context of a middle voice construction. breaks easily, tears easily, ...

CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
khoffCJ -- is this the same as "ergative verbs"?
I call them "Arghative" because they make me run for the exit screaming "Argh"! Emotion: big smile

I don't feel qualified to give an answer on this one. There may be an overlap between the two classes of verbs: those that are ergative and those that can take the middle voice construction. Nevertheless, I sense that there is some kind of a relationship, yes.

CJ
CalifJimActive voice and passive voice are "not middle voice".
It seems so simple.
Is it restricted to verbs which are both transitive and intransitive? (I guess that was Khoff's question.)
That is, "She is not sleeping well" would not be an example of middle voice.
(Everything else about it seems identical to "They are not selling well.")

I surely would have said that "She is sleeping" is a prime example of an active intransitive use in present continuous of a verb which has no transitive meaning.

At this point, the difference created by "to sleep" not having a transitive use seems like a "technicality."
I'm struggling to sort out the real (tangible) difference.

I shall continue to struggle happily. Emotion: happy

Thank you. - A.

Edit. I have to admit that the intransitive verb portion of the "to sell" entry in my AmHtg left me scratching my head, while looking for the rather common usage, "Are these items selling?"
I was beginning to wonder if this expression is modern retailing jargon!
AvangiIs it restricted to verbs which are both transitive and intransitive?
It's restricted to verbs that are transitive, though the transform forces them into an intransitive state, so to speak. The object in the active form becomes the subject in the middle construction, but (unlike the passive) the verb remains in its active form. The verb now has "become intransitive" in the sense that it no longer has an object. No agent is mentioned in the middle voice, nor any specific time reference. The middle voice often expresses something generic.

The chef slices the bread. (A) / The bread is sliced by the chef. (P) / This bread slices easily. (M)

Karen soiled her new dress. (A) / The new dress was soiled by Karen (P) / Dresses like that soil easily. (M)

My son dented the car. (A) / The car was dented by my son. (P) / My car dents easily. (M)

See Beth Levin's English Verb Classes and Alternations if you want more details.
Avangi"She is not sleeping well" would not be an example of middle voice.
True. "sleep" is always intransitive. (For the purposes of this discussion I'm ignoring "This cabin sleeps eight people".)
AvangiI surely would have said that "She is sleeping" is a prime example of an active intransitive use in present continuous of a verb which has no transitive meaning.
Yup. That's what it is all right.
AvangiAt this point, the difference created by "to sleep" not having a transitive use seems like a "technicality."
Which part of grammar do you think is not a technicality? It's all technicalities! Emotion: big smile

But seriously, the OP would never have asked about "He sleeps well", right? People can and do sleep. No problem. But the OP hasasked about "These cameras sell well" because something seems wrong here. Cameras cannot do any selling. There must be a fairly obvious difference if even a non-native speaker can see it. Would that be just a technicality? Emotion: wink

CJ
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Show more