'apply to' or 'be applied to'

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ivarmada

Member
Korean
Hello. People,

As shown in the title, I would like to know if 'apply to' can be substituted with 'be applied to' without any difference of meaning. To help your understanding, I found following two sentences from web searching, and cannot find any differences.

Could inheritance rules be applied to cohabiting couples?
Does the filter backwash recycling rule apply to a public water system?


As always, thank you very much for all your help!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There is a slight difference. If a rule applies to something, it does so now; the active voice question 'Could inheritance rules apply to cohabiting couples?' asks whether the rules do in fact now apply, as they stand. But asking whether they could be applied suggests that, perhaps, the law might have to be changed or clarified, or a court ruling might be needed first, before the rules apply. They might be suitable for applying to such couples, without actually doing so.

    'Apply' is one of the many verbs where the same thing can be both object and subject:

    The government applies these rules to cohabiting couples.
    These rules apply to cohabiting couples.

    The first one, being transitive, can be made passive:

    These rules are applied (by the government) to cohabiting couples.
     

    ivarmada

    Member
    Korean
    Dear entangledbank,

    Thank you very much for the explanation. It is indeed of help.

    I would like to ask you one more favor. Could you please introduce some commonly used verbs where the same thing can be both object and subject? I would really appreciate it.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Then how about these?; these aren't interrogative sentences.
    : 1) The new technology was applied to farming.
    2) The newest technology was applied to this tank.
    3) An eco-friendly concept was applied to the exterior design of this house.
     
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