I came across this sentence in a test:

The first computer was built in 1943, but since then the computer technology has developed a great deal.

My confusion is can we use has been developed instead of the active form of present perfect? If not, can you help me clarify this?


1 Answer 1


Develop is a verb that is "ergative". This means that there are two senses, one is transitive and one is intransitive.

Another ergative verb is "to open". We can say

The door opens (intransitive ergative)

John opens the door (transitive)

The door is opened (transitive passive)

Note the similarity between transitive-passive and intransitive. The difference is that the transitive passive implies that the door didn't open "by itself". Someone did it.

With your example we could use

Computer technology has been developed...

But this would imply that "Someone developed computer technology" The writer wants to suggest that it developed "naturally", as a result of many actions. So they use the intransitive-ergative. It doesn't carry the unwanted meaning "Somebody has developed computer technology."

  • :) The term 'ergative' is new to me; it was interesting as I checked its meaning!
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 3, 2021 at 16:15

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