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Vorgangspassiv - Zustandspassiv

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by zorspas, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. zorspas

    zorspas Senior Member

    İstanbul
    Turkish in lieu of Zazakî
  2. Baranxi Junior Member

    German (Munich vernacular)
    Actually, they are correct from a purely grammatical point of view (apart from the 2nd and 3rd examples being described as a passive, because I don't see "da sein" as passive). As the page says, it is about the Zustandspassiv, which is different from the Vorgangspassiv; that is, it is a special form of the passive that is formed with "sein" instead of "werden" and describes a state instead of a process.

    Personally, I think that almost all of the examples are extremely unidiomatic, though.
    It's hard to express this, but for example, with "Das Haus ist gebaut gewesen" I hear an emphasis on the fact that the house was in a state of having been built (instead of, er, randomly assembled by flying debris).

    A more idiomatic would be a usage like this:
    Der Pullover ist gestrickt (und nicht gehäkelt). = The sweater is knitted (and not crocheted).
     
  3. zorspas

    zorspas Senior Member

    İstanbul
    Turkish in lieu of Zazakî
    So

    Der Brief wird von mir geschrieben means I am still writing it, it's not done yet.
    Der Brief ist von mir geschrieben means I have written it, it's done.

    Is that right?

    Thanks a lot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  4. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That is correct. If you are talking about the state of the letter as having been written by you, you use the Zustandspassiv. If you are talking about your past activity of writing the letter you would use the past tense version of the Vorgangspassiv:
    Der Brief wurde von mir geschrieben
    or, in particular in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland:
    Der Brief ist von mir geschrieben worden
    N.B.: The latter variant is not a Zustandspassiv but the perfect tense of the Vorgangspassiv.
     
  5. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    This can be true but the sentence is fuzzy.


    Der Brief wird von mir geschrieben.
    This can also mean I will write this letter.

    If you want to make it clear that it is present time, you are working on it, use:

    Der Brief wird von mir gerade geschrieben.


     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  6. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Wouldn't that then be Der Brief wird von mir geschrieben werden? Or is that something different/impossible?
     
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    It is like in English: The use of the future tense is optional. You can use present tense instead, at least if the context is clear (e.g.: "I go to the cinema tomorrow" instead of "I will go to the cinema tomorrow"). This creates the ambiguity Hutschi wrote about.
     
  8. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Hmm... actually we always use the present progressive I think. "I go to the cinema tomorrow" :cross: should be "I am going..." :tick:

    Similarly, "The letter is written (by me)" can only mean that it's already written by me or that it, in general, is always written by me (talking about an habitual letter-writing process).

    To convey both present and future meaning, you have to say "The letter is being written by me (right now, tomorrow, etc.)," even though with the future meaning it sounds kind of awkward.

    The best is: The letter will be written by me, using the explicit future, which is why I thought it would be wird geschrieben werden in German, since is/is being written with future meaning in English sounds bad.
     
  9. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That wasn't Hutschi's point. His point was that the person who utters the sentence might not have used the "best" way to say it. You have to anticipate that the person might have been "lazy" and used present tense instead. I didn't imply in any way that "I go to the cinema tomorrow" would be good and idiomatic English. German does not have the continuous form and therefore you don't have the subtle distinction between "I go to the cinema" and "I am going to the cinema". I am sorry, if my choice of an analogy was misleading.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010
  10. zorspas

    zorspas Senior Member

    İstanbul
    Turkish in lieu of Zazakî
    yet another example :

    Die müssen evakuiert werden.
    - What I understand from this : they need to be evacuated. (they are not yet evacuated)

    if we change this as

    Die müssen evakuiert sein. - What I understand from this : they needed to be evacuated (so they have been evacuated already)
     
  11. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    The need exists at present (or in the future, see #5); the evacuation must have happened in the past (or in the past relative to the future time when the need will exist). In other words: the place must be empty now (or in the future).

    In this case the perfect infinitive of the Vorgangspassiv has the same meaning:
    Die müssen evakuiert worden sein.
    This corresponds more closely to the English equivalent.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2009
  12. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Die müssen evakuiert worden sein.

    This means usually in German: I (or we) suppose, they have been evacuated.

    Die müssen evakuiert sein. This means either: I suppose they have been evacuated, or it is necessary they are evacuated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2009
  13. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That is a different use of "müssen" and both versions can really mean both. In spoken language it depends on stress pattern of the sentence which meaning prevails.
     
  14. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    That would translate to: "Die/Sie mussten evakuiert werden".

    Both "Die müssen evakuiert werden" and "Die müssen evakuiert sein" have the same translation in English, namely:

    "They must/need to be evacuated".

    In other words, unlike in German, we cannot tell without context whether the English sentence "They need to be evacuated" is talking about the process of evacuation or the state of being evacuated.

    Abba
     
  15. zorspas

    zorspas Senior Member

    İstanbul
    Turkish in lieu of Zazakî
    The important point for me here is to pinpoint which one is about the process and which one is about the state. What I have in my mind is; passive with werden is about the process and sein is for the state. This state and process stuff is kind of confusing. In Turkish for the process continuous tenses are used.

    This is what I understood from your answers:

    Thanks a lot.
     
  16. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I'm afraid I can't agree with that. "Evakuiert werden" means "to be evacuated" while "evakuiert sein" means "to have been evacuated" (see above, #11).
     
  17. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany

    "Die müssen bis heute abend evakuiert sein." This means at the evening of today it must be ready. It means the status.

    "Die müssen bis heute abend evakuiert werden." this means, there is some time for handling. It means the process.

    If you have both:

    "Die müssen bis heute abend evakuiert worden sein." It means the status that the process has to be completed.
     
  18. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Thanks, Bernd, but I am still a little bit confused. i understand that, with the Zustandspassiv, the process referred to by the Vorgangspassiv is completed. The completion of this process has already occurred some time in the near or more distant past. In this sense, "has been" (as you mentioned in the quote above) seems like an appropriate translation.

    On the other hand, the completion state continues into the present, and in real-world scenarios, it is often only the present state that is of interest.

    For example, the sentence "der Laden ist geöffnet" could (from the above logic) be translated as either "the store has been opened" or as "the store is open". I think it's fair to say that usually the latter is meant. If I wanted to translate "the store has been opened" I would instead use "der Laden ist geöffnet worden".

    The confusion probably arises from the conflicting adjectival use of past participles. For example:

    "Die Tür ist weiß." =
    "The door is white." (adjective)

    "Die Tür ist weiß gestrichen." =
    "The door is painted white." (adjective) or...
    "The door has been/is :confused: painted white." (Zustandspassiv)

    By choosing "is" instead of "has been" in the last sentence, the distinction between whether "ist ... gestrichen" is used as an adjectival expression or as Zustandspassiv becomes academic. If, on the other hand, one insists that the Zustandspassiv means "has been", then the above example becomes ambiguous.

    Lastly, maybe the interpretation (zustandspassiv vs. adjectival phrase) depends on whether an adjectival use is reasonable in a particular context? For example:

    "Die Einwohner sind evakuiert." =
    "The inhabitants have been evacuated."
    ("are evacuated" makes it sound like they've had their brains removed! :))

    "Die Haüser sind evakuiert." =
    "The houses have been/are evacuated."
    (both interpretations are possible here, aren't they?)

    Abba
     
  19. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I think geöffnet as in der Laden ist geöffnet is a simple adjective and not a Zustandspassiv. For a reason I fail to comprehend der Laden ist geöffnet sounds more elegant than der Laden ist offen. In my mind there is no difference in meaning (except that der Laden ist offen can also mean die Tür des Ladens steht offen).
     
  20. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    In school I learned it this way: "Geöffnet" is a "Partizip" here, also called "Mittelwort", because it is between (in the middle) of verb and adjective. It has properties of both.
    In "die Tür ist geöffnet" "geöffnet" is a participle and works as adjective.

    I do not know if "participle" and "Partizip" are exactly the same. In the Wikipedia the descriptions are quite different for both.

    In "Der Laden steht offen" "offen" belongs to the verb. It is a part of the separable verb "offenstehen".

    I'm not sure about "Der Laden ist offen". Is it an adverb or an adjective? I would think it is an adverb, but I am not sure.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  21. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I find it sometimes useful to distinguish between participles and verbal adjectives though the difference is, admittedly, somewhat artificial. It explains a few oddities in some European languages. E.g. in French the present participle is invariant while derived verbal adjectives are declined.

    It is called a "predicative adjective", like "der Apfel ist rot". This contrasts with an "attributive adjective", like "der rote Apfel". In German attributive adjectives are invariant which causes occasional confusion with adverbs.
     
  22. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Yes, I meant Partizip.

    If I understand you (both) correctly, the Zustandspassiv should always be translated into English as "has been", and that in cases where the present tense is assumed ("is"), it's because it's actually not the Zustandspassiv at all, but simply a case of the past participle being used as an adjective.

    Can either of you (or someone else) please confirm this as a general rule? Many thanks!

    Abba
     
  23. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I think this is the most logical way to solve your mystery.:)
     
  24. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    Very well, then. But of course that doesn't really "solve" the problem at all, because there's no a priori way of telling which is which - the syntax is identical in both cases.

    I guess, as ever, it just boils down to experience...

    Abba
     
  25. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Unfortunately yes. :(


    If "der Laden ist geöffnet" weren't a set phrase you would be in doubt because there is the adjective "offen" which you might have used instead. In this case you would have to use the perfect “der Laden ist geöffnet worden” to revive the meaning “the shop has been opened” even though this could be ambiguous too because of different meaning of the perfect in the South.
     
  26. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I'm not sure if I completely understand the confusion... or maybe I am too confused myself. I would think it's more cryptic in English because I thought: Zustandspassiv --> "is/are" or "has/have been" + adj./particip.; Vorgangspassiv --> "is/are" or "gets" + particip.

    In other words, both can be translated with "is/are" in the proper context:

    Vorgangspassiv:

    Die Tür wird (von jemandem) geöffnet = The door is/gets opened (by someone).
    Der Brief wird (von jemandem) geschickt = The letter is/gets sent (by someone).
    Die Zeitungen wird jeden Tag ausgeträgt = The newspapers are/get delivered every day.

    Zustandspassiv:

    Die Tür ist (nicht "von jemandem") geöffnet = The door is open.
    Der Brief ist (nicht "von jemandem") geschickt = The letter is/has been sent.
    Die Zeitungen sind ausgeträgt = The newspapers are/have been delivered.


    Right? Or maybe we're saying the same thing. I guess my point is that I would sometimes translate the Zustandspassiv with "is/are" and not "has/have been," depending on context, although perhaps this boils down to an AE/BE difference.
     
  27. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Not quite.
    The is a slight difference between Die Tür ist offen (the door is open) and Die Tür ist geöffnet (the door has been opened). In the former case the door might be open because it was never shut. In the latter case the door must have been shut at some point in time and opened by someone even if it doesn't matter by whom and why. Sometimes the difference between these two meanings is negligible but sometimes it matters.

     
  28. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    True, and in English if we want to convey that idea explicitly, we would say The door is/has been opened, but the sentence The door is open (at least to me) can mean both:

    - a door is open because it was never shut, or it's always open: The door is open.
    - a door is usually closed but for some reason got opened by someone: The door is open. Why is the door open? It's usually closed.

    Maybe it would help to see an example of The Tür ist geöffnet with a little more context, and I'll tell you what I would say.
     
  29. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Of course it can mean both. The sentence the door is opened conveys more information than the door is open, i.e. if a door is opened it is also open but if a door is open it is not necessarily opened. In cases where you don't have an adjective which is distinguishable from the past participle, like the door is closed and the door is closed, you have a potential ambiguity. And that was the issue of the last part of this discussion. In the terminology of German grammar this translates into the question if die Tür ist geschlossen is a Zustandspassiv or if geschlossen is an adjective. Actually, in this case it would normally be interpreted as a Zustandspassiv because if you explicitly did not want a Zustandspassiv you would say die Tür ist zu.
     

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