Are there any studies on some English passive verb constructions currently being replaced by new intransitive senses?

Linguistics Asked on October 23, 2021

In the past couple of years I’ve noticed a new trend in younger generations of native English speakers, at least in American English and Australian English. But I can’t find it discussed anywhere on the internet yet, not in linguistics papers, not in correct usage sites, not in language blogs.

The change is in certain verbs used in the passive being replaced by the verb used in the intransitive.

The most common verb where this change is happening is "to release" when pertaining to media, software, and technology. But several other verbs are undergoing the same change on a smaller scale.

Some made up examples:

  • "the games are being released" → "the games release"
  • "when the building is completed" → "when the building completes"
  • "the movie will be released" → "the movie will release"

My question is, are there some resources where this is being discussed? Especially any linguistics papers or studies?

Also, would these new senses be a kind of ergative? They make an inanimate object the subjects of verbs they are more normally objects of.


It’s been pointed out to me that English verbs used to have a form called the passival which fits the pattern I describe except that the passival was restricted in use to the progressive while this new trend seems to occur in all tenses and forms of the verb. (More links: 1, 2, 3)


I’ll add some real examples here:

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