German Passive Voice Alternatives

Overview

The passive voice is usually used when the person who does an action is not clear, not important or not known. There are, however, some alternative ways to avoid naming the person or thing acting in the sentence.
  • Using "Man"- Man is a pronoun that is the equivalent of the English manonethey or you - an impersonal pronoun that refers to non-specified person(s).
  • Making a verb reflexive- Reflexive constructions typically suggest that something can be done. Any verb, hypothetically, can be used with the reflexive constructions, which have nothing to do with the actual reflexive verbs.
  • Using Infinitive Clauses- Using infinitive clauses in lieu of the passive voice implies that something canmust or should be done.
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The German Passive voice is most typically formed with the auxiliary verb “werden” and the participle of another verb. There, however, a few alternatives that can be used. 

1. “sein + zu + infinitive”

The best way to translated “sein + zu + infinitive” is “is to be done”, such as “rules are to be followed, or “Incidents are to be reported”. 

Examples:
Die Regeln sind zu beachten
The rules are to be observed. 

Der Rasen ist zu mähen
The lawn is to be mowed. 

Das Auto ist leicht zu reparieren
The car is easy to fix. 

2. “gehören + participle” 

“gehören” as a verb means “to belong”. (e.g. Das Buch gehoert mir – The book belongs to me). The formula “gehören + participle” can be used as a passive voice alternative, used to express something that should/needs to be done. (lit. it “belongs done”. 

Examples:
Das Auto gehört repariert.
The car needs to/should be fixed. 

Das Zimmer gehört aufgeräumt. 
The room needs to/should be tidied. 

3. “Bekommen/kriegen + Participle” 

Both the verbs “bekommen” and “kriegen” mean “to receive/get/obtain”. “Kriegen” is a bit more informal and used more colloquially. The formula “bekommen/kriegen + participle” is another passive voice alternative that is used that something is being done, or more accurately, that someone is having something done.
“Bekommen” or “kriegen” is conjugated to the person that is having something done. 

Example: 

Ich bekomme/kriege ein Paket geschickt
I am being delivered a package. 

Die Patienten bekommen/kriegen das Essen gebracht
The patience are being brought the food. 

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

Writing:
I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.
Spoken Production:
I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.
Spoken Interaction:
I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).
Reading:
I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programs on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.