To be sold out/ to be run out

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Pirulo1234

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello everybody,

I know that the structure “to be sold out” is completely right. For instance:

The tickets for the concert are sold out

However, is this structure also correct with “run out”?

The milk is run out. We have to buy some more

Thank you!
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. Think about the verb "sell". It is transitive, with the subject being the seller and the object being the thing sold. "The theatre sells tickets for the concert". If you only want to refer to the tickets and not the seller, you need the passive voice: "The tickets are sold out".

    Now think of the verb "run". This is intransitive. The subject is the thing that runs (the milk runs out of the bottle), and it cannot be used in the passive voice. If you want to express the same sentiment as "the tickets are sold out" you need the present perfect "The milk has run out".
     

    Pirulo1234

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    No. Think about the verb "sell". It is transitive, with the subject being the seller and the object being the thing sold. "The theatre sells tickets for the concert". If you only want to refer to the tickets and not the seller, you need the passive voice: "The tickets are sold out".

    Now think of the verb "run". This is intransitive. The subject is the thing that runs (the milk runs out of the bottle), and it cannot be used in the passive voice. If you want to express the same sentiment as "the tickets are sold out" you need the present perfect "The milk has run out".
    Mmm... you’re compairing “sell” vs “run out. However, we can say both “We have run out of milk” and “We have sold out of tickets”, and in both cases there is an object, isn’t it?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Run out of" is not the same as "run out". "Run out of" is a transitive phrasal verb. "Run out" with this meaning is intransitive.

    However, it does become confusing when you consider phrasal verbs, which is why I didn't mention them in my earlier post, thinking it easier to describe both "sell out" and "run out" as an ordinary verb + prepositions. This is fine in your original examples, but does not work with "We have run out of milk", nor, for that matter, with "the tickets have sold out".
     

    Pirulo1234

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    "Run out of" is not the same as "run out". "Run out of" is a transitive phrasal verb. "Run out" with this meaning is intransitive.

    However, it does become confusing when you consider phrasal verbs, which is why I didn't mention them in my earlier post, thinking it easier to describe both "sell out" and "run out" as an ordinary verb + prepositions. This is fine in your original examples, but does not work with "We have run out of milk", nor, for that matter, with "the tickets have sold out".
    But in the examples of your earlier post, you compared “sell” and “run out of”, didn’t you?

    You say that “run out of” is transitive, but in your earlier post you said it was intransitive in the example “the milk runs out of the bottle”. Transitive or intransitive? I’m getting mixed up

    Thanks!!
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    But in the examples of your earlier post, you compared “sell” and “run out of”, didn’t you?

    You say that “run out of” is transitive, but in your earlier post you said it was intransitive in the example “the milk runs out of the bottle”. Transitive or intransitive? I’m getting mixed up

    Thanks!!
    Sorry for not being clear. I did not re-read my first post when writing my second, and I did not think my second post through properly.

    The root of the issue is that "sell" is transitive and "run" is intransitive, but I now see that as soon as you come to consider phrasal verbs the logic breaks down, as both "sell out" and "run out" are intransitive. This means that both "The tickets for the concert have sold out" and "The milk has run out" are correct, but does not explain why "The tickets for the concert are sold out" is also correct. The best answer is to consider "sold out" as an adjective, and it is listed as one in sold out - WordReference.com Dictionary of English. "Run out" is not an adjective.
     
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