1. There used to be a hotel near the airport, but it closed a long time ago

  2. There used to be a hotel near the airport, but it was closed a long time ago

In English Grammar in Use, the first one is used. Why?

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Both are grammatical. The first is much more idiomatic.

I haven't got a definite answer for why it is preferred; but I think it is because it doesn't invite the question "Who closed it", where the second does. You would use the second if you wanted to emphasise that somebody closed it.

  • You could look at this from the active/passive perspective, but alternatively it could be seen as a matter of whether to close is being used transitively or intransitively. Either way though, I think one could apply the basic principle use the simplest tense form available unless there's a clear-cut reason to do otherwise (as you say - in this particular case, if you wanted to emphasise that somebody closed it). – FumbleFingers Jan 19 '17 at 13:36
  • 1
    It may be worth noting that "to close" is an ergative verb. Ergative verbs can express much the same sentiment in both active and passive constructions: "the store closed" and "the store was closed" are similar. Other verbs express distinct relationships: "the cow ate" and "the cow was eaten" are quite different. – Gary Botnovcan Jan 19 '17 at 16:19

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