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  1. The strikers’ demands are too silly to consider.
  2. The strikers’ demands are too silly to be considered.

What is the difference between these two sentences?

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Even though one uses the active voice and one the passive voice, there is little difference in meaning because both use the infinitive form ("to consider" and "to be considered"), which does not define the subject. As a related example:

The book was too difficult to understand.

For who to understand? The sentence doesn't say. It's just a global statement about the overall difficulty of the book in the opinion of the writer -- or, to put it another way, it's a statement with which the writer thinks any reasonable person would agree.

Semantically there's little difference if written in the passive voice:

The book was too difficult to be understood.

Since we aren't told any details about the subject, the passive voice states the same thing in a different way.

It's much the same with your example. The writer doesn't specify who thinks the demands are "too silly to consider". That information might be obvious from context, or we might assume the writer feels this way, or it might just be a general statement which the writer thinks any reasonable person would agree with.

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  • In The book was too difficult to understand., we think there was a people who felt difficult to understand the book. But in The book was too difficult to be understood., we think there is the book which was felt difficult by a people. So both are right. Am I right?
    – Y. zeng
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 10:54

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