Sometimes the opposition between 2 forms may be reduced. It means that the verb may be used in the Active Voice form with the meaning of the Passive Voice. Usually we observe it with medial verbs and some authors speak of the medial Voice.
The matter is that verbs may be transitive (which require a subject and an object) and intransitive (which do not require an object) because an action of the verb is directed at a subject. Ex. He reads a book. She smiled.
Medial verbs do not require any subject but as the English sentence requires that the position of the subject should be filled in, then the object fills in the position of the subject. Ex. The book sells well.
Verbs that are Active in Form but Passive in Meaning
Some verbs which are usually followed by an object (to sell, to cut, to wash) can be used without an object and take on a passive meaning. In this, case, the person carrying out the action of the Verb is not referred to. Ex. This book sells well, i.e. it is sold to many people. The dress washes/irons, well, i.e. it is easily washed/ironed. This material makes up nicely into suits, i.e. it can be used by the tailor for making suits. The butter spreads easily, i.e. it can be spread easily. The bread is cutting badly because it's very soft, i.e. to cut the bread is difficult. Other tenses may also be used. The book sold well. The dress has washed well. The material will make up nicely.
Note: the verbs are followed by adverbs in the above examples. It is also possible to omit the adverb, if the meaning is clear. This is often the case in the question form and in the negative. E.g.: The book didn't sell, so it wasn't reprinted. The dress is very pretty. Will it wash? The material should make up into a winter dress, shouldn't it? Butter won't spread when it's been in the fridge. Will the bread cut? If not, try the other knife.
There are some other verbs of this sort, with the nouns (subjects) that they are often used with in this construction
(A car) drives, steers
(A boat) sails
(A clock) winds up
(A door) locks, unlocks
(A book) reads well / easily, i.e. the book is good / easy to read.
Large native cigarettes smoked easily and coolly. The lion chops will eat better than they look.
Problem of neutralization: Passive in form but active in meaning
When dealing with the category of Voice the problem is that the Passive Voice constructions coincide with the compound nominal predicate ( was opened ). If this construction (be + Participle II) expresses a state then it is a compound nominal predicate in the Active Voice. Ex. The window was broken and it was cold in the room. She was excited (a.v.) She was excited by the friend's words. (P. V.)
Besides there 2 Voice some authors speak of some more Voice forms. The most popular are the Reflexive Voice and the Reciprocal Voice and the Middle Voice. Ex. She dressed herself. They helped each other.
The reflexive and reciprocal pronouns should be looked upon as the voice auxiliaries. Such word combinations are treated as analytical verb forms of the Reflexive or Reciprocal voice . However we can't agree to the idea , because :
1. The reflexive/reciprocal pronouns preserve their lexical meaning but auxiliaries in analytical forms loose their meanings.
2. There are syntactic relations between the components. The reflexive / reciprocal pronouns are objects to the verbs. We can prove this by using homogeneous objects. Ex. He dressed himself and his brother. They praised one another and all the quests. He defended himself, a victim of the situation.
Hence, such word combinations are free word combinations. As for the Middle Voice, some authors find it when comparing the following sentences: Ex. He opened the door.-The door opened.
The Middle Voice uses are cases of neutralizing reduction of the voice oppositions. Ex. He broke the ice.-The ice broke.
The verbs are active in form, but passive in meaning. Ex. She was delightful to look at, witty to talk to.
Another case of neutralization: You are of mistaken (Passive in form, but active in meaning). It expresses a state.
The forms of the Active Voice can't be opposed and it there is no opposition we can't speak of any special grammatical category. In sentences like "the door opened" we should speak of medial verbs in the Active Voice.
Category of Tense
The Category of Tense is the basic verb category. It expresses the correlation between the action and event and objective time. We know that the actions or event can exist and develop only in time. The morphological category of tense reflects the objective logical category of time. But the difficulty is that the morphological category of tense doesn't always express the objective time. We should differentiate the notions of the objective and relative time. In the language we mostly deal not with objective but with relative time. We can speak of the objective-time only in those cases wnen the moment of speaking coensides with a developing action. But actually we take some moment of time as a starting point in reference to which all the actions are expressed.
If this starting point of time is taken in the plane including the moment of speaking then we deal with the Present tense.
Any action which proceeds this starting moment of time is expressed by the Past Tense. And finally, any action which follows this starting point of time is expressed by the Future Tense. So we differentiate 3 principal tense forms in English: Present, Past, Future.
In English there exists one more specific tense form which is called the "Future-in-the-Past". This tense form is used when we want to say that the action is treated as Future in reference to some Past moment of time.
The Present Tense is formed by the Infinitive without the particle to in the 3-rd person singular the verb takes the inflexion -s(-es). The Past Tense of the regular verb is formed with the help of the inflexion -ed. The Past Tense of the irregular verbs is formed in some different ways:
1) by sound alternation (sit-sat-sat);
2) by sound alternation and a dental suffix (keep-kept-kept);
4) without any change in the form of the verb (put-put-put).
The Future Tense is formed with the help of the auxiliary verb shall/will and the infinitive of the notional verb.
The Future-in-the-Past is formed with should/would and infinitive of the notional verb without the particle "to".
Traditional grammar speaks of 16 tense forms in English but actually there exist only 4 of them. The matter is that when speaking about an action we express its primary characteristics of tense but then it may be necessary to show the character of the development of the action or to compare the action with some other one and then in suchycases the primary tense category is modified by some other verb categories such as aspect (continuous or non-continuous), perfect (perfect or non-perfect).
So we get complex analytical forms, which express not one category of tense but a number of