Ich wurde geboren…

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by gaer, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale

    You made a correction in another thread.

    Ich wurde am --. Oktober 19-- in Paris geboren.

    I just got a letter from a German lady who typed:

    "Ich bin am 7.7.1957 in der Stadt ----- geb.,welche im Bundesland NRW liegt."

    Now, the person who wrote me does not write as well as you. That I can tell you for a fact. But I was curious about this one point. I have a TON of questions, which I'll try to ask one by one soon.

  2. Ralf Senior Member

    Since my clients are late I have a few more minutes left. Therefore this in brief:

    "Ich wurde am .... in .... geboren" is grammatically correct since it is the passive voice of the very first event one had been involved in the past. It is used formally to stress the date of birth. It is fine to use it in your CV.

    A more informal way is to say "Ich bin ... geboren". It refers to an activity in the past, too, using the present perfect (which is grammatically correct since the one who writes/says this should be supposed to be still alive). Furthermore it has the connotation to emphasize the place of the birth. In day to day conversation you might hear something like this:

    A: Dein Französich ist ja perfekt, wo hast du es gelernt.
    B: Ich bin in Paris geboren und daher ist Französich meine Muttersprache

  3. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale

    I found this:

    Beethoven wurde 1770 in Bonn geboren. (Mozart war damals 14 Jahre alt.).

    The advice I was given was different from yours. The German professor who taught the class I attended suggested using the passive construction for people who are dead and suggest using "bin--------geboren" when telling people when WE were born. This guy was very good. He also taught English and Russian, and his English was perfect. No accent either. He did not begin learning English until he was around 11 years old. So far I have never found that anything he recommended was wrong. In fact, he tended to be very conservative about language.

    Check this out:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 53 for "Ich wurde in Berlin geboren"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 485 for "Ich bin in Berlin geboren"

    Now, I know this only reflects usage, which often is quite wrong. But it seems to me that "wurde" hier sounds almost hypercorrect. I hope you realize I feel very, VERY unsure about making such a statement. :(

    Contrast this with:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 4,180 for "Ich wohne in Berlin".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,600 for "Ich lebe in Berlin".

    In this case I'm relieved to find that what I was taught is also more popular. :)

  4. Ralf Senior Member

    Hello gaer, I tried to start answering your post already yesterday during ‘lunch break’. But since there had been no more than a few minutes left then I didn’t get as far as copying this quotation:
    Generally expressing 'being born' always requires the passive voice, no matter if past perfect or past is used in German ("ich bin geboren [worden]" or "ich wurde geboren"). Both are grammatically correct since they refer to an event in the past.

    If the subject is already dead there is definitely no choice but using the past perfect. But this is slightly different from the title of your thread with the personal pronoun “Ich” as the subject. Although I don’t want to (and don’t need to) doubt or argue about the suggestion given by your professor, in this very special case I wouldn’t take his advice as a general rule to be followed strictly. Personally I would prefer the past construction (“ich wurde geboren”) for stylistic reasons, no matter referring to the place or the date of my birth as pointed out in my previous post. For me this sounds fine and in no way ‘hypercorrect’ while “ich bin geboren”, although widely heard and used colloquially, seems somehow grammatically incomplete (if not wrong at all). I think to complete the passive voice it has to go “Ich bin geboren worden”. Well, this may sound somehow ‘hypercorrect’ indeed, therefore I would basically stick to “ich wurde geboren”, at least in formal conversations or writings (and probably in most cases of day-to-day language, too). But, as mentioned above, this may be more a matter of personal style rather than a reason to fix some rules. But since my last grammar lesson dates back to somewhere between the middle ages and the last turn of millenniums;) I am not that sure about it and therefore don’t want my point of view to be understood either grammatically generalized or the ‘gospel of personal style’. Perhaps the others could comment on that.

    Here a few examples in which I would find the “bin” construction appropriate:

    A: Bist du sicher, dass du das schaffen wirst?
    B: Ich glaube, ich bin für diese Aufgabe geboren.

    Ich bin Dresden geboren und aufgewachsen.

  5. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    I have some pain in my RH from typing to much, so I will answer briefly.

    In the SAME letter, a lady used "bin.........geboren" AND "wurde.........geboren". On the basis of what you just told me, I'll use wurde. Case closed!

    Many thanks, Ralf!

  6. je-ne-regrette-rien Senior Member

    Just wondering, how could 'geboren werden' be in a passive construction, when the verb by its nature is passive? Surely the 'ich bin geboren' is also a passive construction? And if I were to say 'Ich habe geboren', would that mean 'I bore' - e.g. 'Maria hat Jesus geboren'?
  7. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    That is correct.

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