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Passive substitutes

Passive Substitutes (Substitute Passive)

Summary

  • Man, reflexive constructions, allow yourself + infinitive and be to + infinitive can all be used as substitutes for the passive voice.
  • Whereas "man"Can generally be used whenever one could use" one "in English (as in:" One shouldn’t eat through one’s nose "), it is difficult to give a general rule for when one can use reflexive constructions, allow yourself + infinitive and be to + infinitive. ==> The purpose of this page is to give you the tools to understand these constructions when you see them, and thus to help you begin to develop a feeling for when one can use them [passive substitute there!] By making it possible to recognize passive substitutes when they are used in the German you hear and read.

Practice Exercises

Passive replacement ==> Passive

Passive ==> Passive replacement

German ==> English

Man

Man is used more commonly in German than one is in English:

How do you do that?How is that done? / How does one do that?
You can see Jupiter with the naked eye.Jupiter can be seen (One can see Jupiter) with the naked eye.

Notes:

If you use man, remember that:

(1) you should not switch to he shein the same sentence:

If man don't know how man that does, should man don't do it.If one doesn't know how that is done, one shouldn't do it.

(2) man is nominative; its accusative is one, dative is one, and genitive is be; the form sone other one are awkward, however, and generally avoided if possible:

Cigarettes can one kill.Cigarettes can kill you (one).
In space can one get cold quickly.One can get cold fast in space.
If to be Car washes, it will rain.If one washes one's car, it will rain.

Reflexive constructions

One can sometimes (but only sometimes !!) replace the passive with a reflexive construction:

How writes itself the?How is that spelled?
Drive learns light.Driving is learned easily. Driving is easy to learn.

Sometimes the best translation is can be+ passive:

The explains itself so:…This can be explained as follows: ...

Let yourself + infinitive

This means that something can be done, or that someone lets something be done.

The let yourself best explain with an example.This can be explained most easily with an example.
Let yourself Cure Alzheimer's?Can Alzheimer's disease be cured?
optimism let yourself learnOptimism
can be learned.
I let me not fooling [someone for
To make a fool of someone].
I will not allow myself to be made a fool of.

Note that allow yourself+ infinitive can also mean “to have something done” –in this sense it is not a passive substitute:

I let me cut the hair.I'm having my hair cut.
We let us bring breakfast to the room.We're having breakfast brought to our room.

Its too + infinitive

This means that something can be done or must be done, depending on the context.

The is Not to understand.This cannot be understood / This is incomprehensible.
The homework are See you tomorrow to do.The homework must be done by tomorrow.