Active and passive voice in German
What is the difference between active and passive?
If a subject of a sentence acts upon an object, the sentence is written in the "normal" active form. The activity of the subject is expressed by the active form. Example: Sie kauft das Buch. - She buys the book.
An alternative to this sentence structure is the passive voice. The subject (in this case "das Buch") of the sentence receives an action. Example: Das Buch wird von ihr gekauft. - The book is bought by her.
The two different German passive voices
There are two different passive voices in the German language. The first one is built of werden + past participle. The second one is built of sein + past participle.
1. Processual passive in German (werden + past participle)
The processual passive is used to set the action itself priority. By whom the action was caused is unknown and not important. The passive voice can be formed for all tenses in the German language. But only werden changes according to the personal pronouns to form the tenses. The past participle remains the same.
|present||Das Buch wird gekauft.|
|present perfect||Das Buch ist gekauft worden.|
|simple past||Das Buch wurde gekauft.|
|past perfect||Das Buch war gekauft worden.|
|future||Das Buch wird gekauft werden.|
|future perfect||Das Buch wird gekauft worden sein.|
2. Stative passive in the German language (sein + past participle)
The stative passive describes the condition after an action.
|present||Das Buch ist gekauft.|
|present perfect||Das Buch ist gekauft gewesen.|
|simple past||Das Buch war gekauft.|
|past perfect||Das Buch war gekauft gewesen.|
|future||Das Buch wird gekauft sein.|
|future perfect||Das Buch wird gekauft gewesen sein.|
Examples of active and passive sentences
|Ich trinke Wasser.||I'm drinking water||Das Wasser wird von mir getrunken.||The water is being drunk by me|
|Ich hob den Stuhl.||I picked up the chair||Der Stuhl wurde von mir gehoben.||The chair was picked up by me|
|Er hat das Essen gekocht.||He cooked the food||Das Essen ist von ihm gekocht gewesen.||The food was cooked by him|
|Er hatte das Essen gekocht.||He has cooked the food||Das Essen war von ihm gekocht worden.||The food has been cooked by him|
|Ich werde den Stuhl heben.||I will pick up the chair||Der Stuhl wird von mir gehoben werden.||The chair will be picked up by me|
|Ich werde den Stuhl gehoben haben.||I will have picked up the chair||Der Stuhl wird von mir gehoben worden sein.||The will have been picked up by me|
You have learned about the two different passive forms and when to use them. Apply your theoretical knowledge in our exercises of the passive voice.
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