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I'm trying to understand the construction of these two sentences and would appreciate any help/thoughts:

  1. The house sold for more than expected.
  2. The house fetched more than expected.

To me both sentences seem to convey the same meaning,that is, the value that was obtained after selling the house was greater than expected.

What I'm really trying to determine is why the verb to be isn't necessary to form the passive here, in either sentence and whether it has something to do with sold and fetched being used in an intransitive form.

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    The second sentence is not passive. "The house fetched (money)" and "The dog fetched (a stick)" are both active.
    – John Feltz
    Nov 16, 2016 at 19:42
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    "more than expected", with "money" implied.
    – John Feltz
    Nov 16, 2016 at 19:56
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    The first sentence isn't a passive, either. It's the so-called Middle Construction, as in Her book is selling well. Normally sell requires an agent subject, but it may appear in this construction as well with a patient subject and no agent expressed. Since this construction is not Passive, it doesn't use the be that Passive would require; there is in fact no marking at all, which is what makes it confusing. Nov 16, 2016 at 20:19
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    @EdwinAshworth No, the ready question is all about ready being able to be both a control adjective and also take hollow clauses. In generative speak that means that ready is a tough adjective and an Equi-deletion adjective. Completely different phenomenon. Hence why you might need to be worried if a cannibal said "Are you ready to eat?" Nov 17, 2016 at 19:27
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    @Araucaria Agreed. There have been other questions which actually do address the middle voice. eg This book reads easily vs this book is reading easily. Nov 17, 2016 at 19:52

1 Answer 1

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@John Lawler's answer in the comment:

The first sentence isn't a passive, either. It's the so-called Middle Construction, as in

Her book is selling well.

Normally to sell requires an agent subject, but it may appear in this construction as well, with a patient subject, and no agent expressed. Since this construction is not Passive, it doesn't use the auxiliary be that Passive would require; there is in fact no marking at all, which is what makes it confusing.

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