I was reading an article saying

The following general minimum safety requirements shall apply:

I thought the sentence should be

The following general minimum safety requirements shall be applied:

because the meaning is passive to me.


1 Answer 1


They have the same basic meaning. Changing the subject of the sentence changes the emphasis a tiny amount.

Requirements can apply

“Requirements” can apply, meaning they can exist and be relevant to the situation.

This version emphasizes the existence of the requirement.

Requirements apply to this form.

Requirements apply.

In these sentences, we don’t know who created the requirement, we only know that they do exist. They may have always existed.

Newton’s laws of gravity and motion apply to all objects.

Someone can apply a requirement

Requirements are applied to this form.

Requirements shall be applied to this form.

In this case, the passive voice tells us that someone or something is “creating the requirement and attaching it to this situation.”

The passive voice has a implied subject:

Requirements are applied (by the government.)

The government applies a requirement.

The government requires...

This can’t be used with something that has always existed:

No: Newton’s laws of gravity and motion are applied to all physical objects.

This doesn’t make sense in most situations.

  • Are there more general rules or more verbs like "apply" in similar usage? Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:35
  • @over_twenty_five Can you explain what you mean, please? Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:38
  • I wonder if there are another verbs giving close meaning like "apply" with both passive and active pattern? Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 4:47

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