Why do we use the active form of verbs rather than using the passive form of it.

For example,

  • it spells as “W.O.R.k”
  • it is spelt as “W.O.R.K”


  • the oranges sell at $2 Lb

  • the oranges are sold at $2 Lb

My question is in which cases can we use the active form where at the same time we can use the passive form?

I want to know if the orange can sell itself or the word can spell itself! Or the word is spelt by someone and the oranges are sold by someone

I hope you can understand my point to answer.

  • NB typical abbreviation would be lower case: $2/lb or $2 per lb
    – jonathanjo
    Apr 25, 2019 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


When you inform someone of how something is spelled, you say:

It is spelled or spelt w-o-r-k. [you are providing information on spelling]

If you say: w-o-r-k spells work, that usually is a metaphorical use, it means: is.

For example: That boy spells trouble. [spells=is].

Generally, one would not say: spelled or spelt as unless you are comparing two spellings of something. As used in some place or publication. "But, Mary, they are spelling it as "c-o-l-o-u-r".

The oranges usually sell for $2 a pound but today are selling for $2.60 a pound.
The oranges are sold for 2$ a pound most of the time.
You can say either. One is active and the other is passive. There is no difference in meaning and you do not need to say by whom.

Sell at is ok, too. Sell at is used for the stock market, for example.

Words cannot spell themselves. The words are spelled or spelt by someone or something [a computer]. You do not always need the agent.

Oranges are sold by the pound [by grocery stores].


Regarding spelling:

  • it is spelt as W.O.R.K

If there are differences you can say

  • I spell it C-O-L-O-U-R and he spells it C-O-L-O-R

On the telephone it is common for service companies to ask how to spell your name or address details like this:

  • My name is Thomson. How are you spelling that?

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