The middle voice

ancient-grammar-policeDo you receive the Grammar Girl email newsletters? As writers and/or editors, there’s always something new to learn, and Mignon Fogarty (aka “Grammar Girl”) is a master at making that learning interesting and (gasp) fun.

You can follow her a bunch of ways — on her website, on Facebook, on YouTube, by the newsletter, by podcast, and more. Find links to all those places here.

In a recent newsletter, Grammar Girl discussed the “middle voice”:

I got a comment on YouTube from a listener named Steven, who asked about verbs like the ones in this following sentence: “The screw screwed in more easily than I thought it would.” Clearly, the screw didn’t screw itself in. The person who uttered the sentence screwed it in.

You might think phrasing a sentence this way would lead to total confusion, but it doesn’t. How is that possible? Steven wondered if this grammatical phenomenon has a name.

In fact, there is a name for it. It’s usually called the middle voice, although if you want a more jargony name, you might prefer “mediopassive construction.”

If you find this as interesting as we did, click here and read the whole post, or listen to the podcast.

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