German Passive Voice

The bain of my life, just an improvement on the previous set of revision cards.

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Intro - What is the Passive and When is it used?

What is the Passive Voice?

Firstly, the passive is a voice, not a tense! This is really important to remember because it means that it can be used in any tense at all.

When do I use the Passive Voice?

When you are:

- trying to avoid blaming a particular person or trying to mention a particular person/object.

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Auf Englisch

The suspicious dog (subject) ate (verb) the boy (direct object). (active)

The boy (subject) was eaten (verb). (passive)


The boy (subject) was eaten (verb) by the suspicious dog (agent). (passive).

The active and passive can be told apart by the subject in each sentence. In the active sentence the subject is the "thing" that is carrying out the action. However, in the passive, the subject is the "thing" that is having the action carried out on them.

The direct object in the active becomes the subject in the passive, and the subject of the active becomes the agent in the passive.

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Auf Deutsch

To create a passive sentence in German, it is pretty much the same as when creating a passive sentence in English.


Das Mädchen (subject) kauft (verb) den Pullover (direct object). (active)

[The girl buys the sweater].

Der Pullover (subject) wird (verb) von dem Mädchen (agent) gekauft (past participle of verb). (passive)

[The sweater is being bought by the girl].

1) The subject of the active becomes the agent of the passive.

2) The direct object of the active becomes the subject of the passive.

3) There are two parts to the verb: werden + past participle

4) the agent is introduced by "von" + dative.

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Creating the Sentences


Der Schlüssel wird von mir gesucht.

[the key is searched for by me].

Use correct form of "werden", in this case it is "wird" because "der Schlüssel" is singular. Even though it is present tense, the P.P. is still used on the end of the sentence.

Simple past:

Die Altstadt wurde oft fotografiert

[The old town was often photographed].

Again, the correct form of "werden" is used along with the P.P.

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Das Buch wird von dem Kindern gekauft werden.

[The buch will be bought by the children].

Correct form of "werden" is used first of all, this "wird" signifies that the book is singular. The P.P. is added to the end and then "werden" is also added to the end to replace "sein".


Das Zeugnis ist von dem Lehrer geschrieben worden.

[The report card has been written by the teacher].

"ist" is used because "sein" is used instead of "werden" in the perfect tense, the P.P. is then added onto the end. At the very end of the sentence we can't have another P.P., i.e. geworden, so we use a special P.P. form of "werden" which is "worden".

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