The passive voice is used far less in German grammar than in English, but it still finds its place. The passive voice is the type of verb used when the verb’s subject is the person or thing influenced. The active or passive voice may be in any tenses, including the present, past, near, or future. You will most likely see it occurring in writing rather than in a phrase spoken to you. So, whether you intend on having or choosing to read German-language books or a German daily newspaper, you’d better understand how the passive voice functions.
It’s important to recognize the distinction between using tenses and using the passive voice. You must know the correct phrasing to be able to use the passive voice for German verbs. For example, a sentence in the passive voice could not always specify who performed the action, instead of using phrases like “von Bobby” (by Bobby) or “durch den wind” (by the wind) if the action was performed by an inanimate object (by the wind).
You must know the forms of ‘werden’ in order to conjugate verbs in the passive voice (to become). In German, werden + the past participle is used, while in English, “to be” is used to form the passive voice. It may or may not include the narrator.
The passive is the form of the verb that is used when the subject of the verb is the one affected by the action.
I was asked, we were carried, it had been made, and so on.
In a normal, or active sentence, the ‘subject’ of the verb is the person or thing that carries out the action described by the verb. The ‘object’ of the verb is the person or thing that the verb ‘happens’ to.
In English, as in German, you can turn an active sentence round to make a passive sentence.
Very often, however, you cannot identify who is carrying out the action indicated by the verb:
Forming The Passive
In English, we use the verb “to be” with the past participle (was kissed, was asked) to form the passive, and the word ‘by’ usually introduces the agent. In German, the passive is formed using werden and the past participle, while the agent is introduced by
which can be represented by a person, an organization, or a thing
Here is the present tense of the verb lieben (meaning to love) in its passive form:
ich werde geliebt. – I am loved.
du wirst geliebt. – you are loved.
er/sie/es wird geliebt. – he/she/it is loved.
wir werden geliebt. – we are loved.
ihr werdet geliebt. – you (plural) are loved.
sie/Sie werden geliebt. – they/you (formal) are loved.
You can form other tenses of the passive by changing the tense of the verb werden, for example, the imperfect passive.
Ich wurde geliebt. – I was loved.
There are three main ways that German speakers express the same idea.
Man hatte sie schon informiert. – She was already told/given this information.
Das kann man machen. – That can be done / that’s possible.
Peter schenkte Anna einen Computer zum Geburtstag. – Peter gave Anna a computer for her birthday.
Instead of the passive form:
Anna hat zum Geburtstag von Peter einen Computer geschenkt bekommen.