Impersonal Passive

< Previous | Next >

J.F. de TROYES

Senior Member
francais-France
I am wondering if impersonal passives can be used in Dutch like in the following German sentences or is the active form preferred with a subject as man as we do in French :

1. In den Bus wird durch die Hintertür ein gestiegen.
2.In den angelsächsisten Ländern wird links gefahren.

Thanks a lot for your reply.
 
  • ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Jawohl, Herr J.F.! There is an alternative with 'we' or 'je', which replaces 'men' (D. man): We stappen or Je stapt achteraan op; I'd prefer the passive form here, though.

    Not, however, the reflexive form as in French: ça ne se dit pas. (In some cases I can imagine a non-flexive form expressing some passive meaning: "Die krant leest vlot" (lit. se lit ...), "Dat zit gemakkelijk", ... The number of verbs allowing for this use might be increasing...
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    Thanks for your explanations. Could you please translate the sentences 1 and 2 into Dutch by using the passive ? German does'nt use a subject in such sentences unlike French impersonal passives as in " il a été décidé de ... " ( the so-called sujet apparent ). What about Dutch ?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Here are the answers:
    1. In de bus wordt achteraan opgestapt. >>> MOre directive: IN de bus stap je ("tu", but meaning "on" in French), In de bussen stappen we (nous)...
    2. In de Angelsaksische landen wordt er links gereden (gehouden).

    So we do it the same way as in German, but we have the magic "er": er wordt links gereden in de A... landen.
    Er = "there" in English, but not deictic,
    = "" literally in French (deictic), but generally translated as "il";
    = it would be deictic "da" in German, but as far as I know you cannot use it in this kind of sentence, only as deictic: Da wird links gefahren... (You could not say Da wird rechts gefahren in Deutschland, because you would have two spatial expressions/ adverbials in one sentence...
     
    Last edited:

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    So I suppose er cannot be considered a subject of the verb as we do in French for il because it is the 3rd sing.personal pronoun, but as it refers to nobody, it's traditionally called sujet apparent as opposed to un sujet réel. German uses the same way the pronoun es , but it is not always mandatory , unlike er in Dutch and il in French.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Yes, it can be used as sujet apparent, indeed.

    But on the other hand, I am not sure it really is sujet apparent in the left driving sentence. It is in "Er zijn veel auto's op staat". Strictly speaking, I'd even say, it is not a real subject, Sponteneously I' say it is an adverbial, it feels like one (though not deictic, extremely general). There is no perfect parallel with "il", I am afraid, though it may seem to be like that...
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    I agree with you. By nature ER doesn't match the French IL and is closer to English THERE in there is ( er zijn ... ).

    Thanks so much, ThomasK, for your interesting comments.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top