What is the difference between active and passive voice in these sentences?

This product is sold well.
This product sells well.

1 Answer 1


The difference is between the passive voice, which implies that a seller exists and the active voice, which does not. "sell" is one of those verbs in which context determines the role of the subject.

The product is selling / John is selling (the product)

However in the passive voice, only the transitive form of the verb is possible:

The product is being sold (by John)

So the difference between the passive and active is the implied role of the (unnamed) seller.

The product is sold well (by John)

This tells us that "John" is doing a good job. You would not normally use this structure, as the active voice is better suited. "John is selling the product well."

The active form has no implied seller, so it just means that lots of people are buying the product.

  • 1
    The product sells well sounds strange to me. I think it would be much more natural to just the product sells itself. Without the reflexive pronoun, it reads as if the product is taking a more active role and is good at conducting sales in general, which is an odd thing to say about something that's inanimate. Your rephrased version also makes more sense, because the use of is turns selling into a kind of adjectival verb. Jun 12, 2020 at 9:41
  • Thank you very much! Do I understand correctly? Both sentences are true. The first sentence implies a seller and the second does not. Could you tell me if there are mistakes in this comment? Jun 12, 2020 at 9:50
  • I'd say the first sentence implies the method by which the product is sold is really good, and the second just implies a lot of it is being sold. "These hot cakes are sold really well. The seller takes the time to find exactly what kind of hot cake you want, then follows up to make sure you were completely satisfied with the cake." "These hot cakes sell really well! As soon as I put a batch on the shelves, people buy them all!"
    – Showsni
    Jun 12, 2020 at 12:12

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