a tune was playing or the radio was playing?

Garbuz

Senior Member
Russian
Is it correct to say "A good tune was playing on the radio"? Sometimes active forms are used in contexts where we would normally use passive constructions, like "The rice is cooking", or " the book sells well".

To be on the safe side, I would say "The radio was playing a good tune", but I would like to check the above variant.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Garbuz

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I wonder if there's any theoretical explanation why some constructions with a passive meaning can be formed using the active voice and some cannot.
    For example,
    While the tune was playing ...(correct)
    While the football game was playing ... (incorrect)

    Thanks in advance.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    While the football game was playing on the television, four robbers were looting the south end of the house. Meanwhile, the fans in the living room were enjoying nachos and light beer.
     

    Garbuz

    Senior Member
    Russian
    One lives and learns. Interesting! How about this:
    While the letter was writing ... (instead of 'while the letter was being written')? I'll eat my hat if it's grammatical. :) I'm trying to understand when this active-for-passive substitution is possible.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The football game has an agent -- the television -- that enables it to play. The letter doesn't have such an agent -- that would be a writer.
     
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