sell out [=betray] use?

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HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
Hi, to mean 'betray' you use 'sell out' in the active voice, not in the passive voice. Am I right?

:cross:Bob was sold out on James. He now works for the company James's enemy owns.
:tick:Bob sold out on James. He now works for the company James's enemy owns.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Both sentences are incorrect: to sell out is transitive and can be used in the active and passive aspects. When used in the passive, the phrasal verb takes by:

    Bob was sold out by James. Bob, in revenge, now works for the company James's enemy owns. (Context added for clarity.)

    Bob sold out on James. James, in revenge, now works for the company Bob's enemy owns. (Sentence altered and context added for clarity.)

    This is the BE use, AE may differ and accept "sell out on". Await an AE speaker.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Both sentences are incorrect: to sell out is transitive and can be used in the active and passive aspects. When used in the passive, the phrasal verb takes by:

    Bob was sold out by James. Bob, in revenge, now works for the company James's enemy owns. (Context added for clarity.)

    Bob sold out on James. James, in revenge, now works for the company Bob's enemy owns. (Sentence altered and context added for clarity.)

    This is the BE use, AE may differ and accept "sell out on". Await an AE speaker.
    The Free Dictionary has an entry:sell out: Slang To betray one's cause or colleagues: He sold out to the other side.

    Then, how about,
    'Bob sold out on James to the company his enemy owns'
    ?
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, to mean 'betray' you use 'sell out' in the active voice, not in the passive voice. Am I right?

    :cross:Bob was sold out on James. He now works for the company James's enemy owns.
    :tick:Bob sold out on James. He now works for the company James's enemy owns.
    It is okay for me, but it needs a comma, in the middle.

    "Bob sold out on James, to the company his enemy owns."
    Hi, Perpend.

    Would you then take the second example in my OP as acceptable, then?
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Yes. The second example is acceptable for me. I would not use "James's" though.

    James' ...
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Sell out" is almost a synonym for "Betray", "Sold out" for "Betrayed".

    You don't betray on someone, you betray them, and in the same way you don't sell out on someone, you sell out someone. However, most people would say "sell someone out".

    The "on" is not used.
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    Really? Generally in British English, you'd "sell xxxxx out", or sometimes "sell out xxxxx".

    I think there's a difference in meaning here.

    If you sell out on someone, you've betrayed your roots, but not them specifically. You can just sell out alone.

    If you sell someone out, you're betraying them, if you sell out on someone, you're betraying yourself.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    You don't betray on someone, you betray them, and in the same way you don't sell out on someone, you sell out someone. However, most people would say "sell someone out".
    I agree with Smauler: He sold his partners out. (Maybe, as far as AE goes, it's regional?)
    To be sold on is to approve or be enthusiastic about: I'm sold on your idea for improving our business.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I thought 'on' here was the same kind as that used in 'She walked out on him' or 'She shut the door on him' ....
    Not for me.

    The "on" is necessary as to walk out (to leave with no intention of returning) is intransitive and to shut does not take an indirect object.

    To sell out is transitive.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    So, if you jump ship on your friend/coworker, etc., and go to work for the company that his enemy owns, you aren't selling out on him. :confused:
     
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