We have a phrase:

I'm easy to please.

This means:

I can be pleased easily.

Shouldn't the phrase be:

I'm easy to be pleased.

Just like:

The game is easy to be played.?

Thank you.

4 Answers 4


Adjectives With Passive Infinitives You may also see adjectives inserted into a passive infinitive construction, such as fit, ready, eager, and easy. Check out these examples from "A History of the English Language:"

"With adjectives, passive infinitives are generally only used in PDE [present-day English] when an active infinitive may lead to ambiguity, as in the case of likely or fit, cf. you are not fit to be seen...Another adjective which has retained the option of using a passive infinitive is ready. Thus the well-known ambiguity of (113) can be avoided by using the variant in (114):

(113) The lamb is ready to eat. (114) The lamb is ready to be eaten." Olga Fischer and Wim van der Wurff, "Syntax."

"Other adjectives still allowing the passive infinitive tend to be like ready in that they can occur in both the easy-to-please construction...and the eager-to-please construction (where it is to be interpreted as the subject of the infinitive)."

  • In all other cases when using active infinitive won't make the sentence ambiguous, you should use the active I.
    – user98919
    Aug 24, 2019 at 6:40

Try these instead:

? I'm easy to be pleased.
→ ✔ I'm easily pleased.

? The game is easy to be played.
→ ✔ The game is easily played.

While easy to be in these sentences is not necessarily ungrammatical in a purely syntactical sense, it is unidiomatic.

In both cases, the word you're looking for is an adverb. In the original constructions, what's being used instead is a phrase that makes use of a so-called flat adverb (or bare adverb). Although this is sometimes done (drive slow rather than drive slowly), it's not normally used in this particular context—and certainly not when a single normal adverb can take the place of a flat adverbial phrase.

  • 1
    I love it when you cut to the chase and avoid embroilment.
    – Lambie
    Aug 24, 2019 at 19:45

1 and 2 are correct. Don't think 3 is. 4 shouuld be transformed into 'to play'. I'll try to find this grammar with its exceptions(passive used), and mmaybe will return)


Mostly we use an active infinitive instead of a passive infinitive with some adjectives like easy, difficult, impossible, etc. in a clause in which the subject is really the object of the infinitive. This use is a special construction (according to Michael Swan). So you should say:

I am easy to please = It's easy to please me = To please me is easy = I am easily pleased.

This game is easy to play = It's easy to play this game = To play this game is easy = This game is easily played.

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