I read in an article on DW Sport:

Die Tore schossen Müller und Kruse.

This expression is passive I think, but why is werden omitted? Shouldn't it be:

Die Tore wurden von Müller und Kruse geschossen.

  • 12
    The expression is not passive. It is active, only the order of the words was switched. You just cannot tell a priori that die Tore is accusative while Müller und Kruse is nominative.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 12:48
  • Past participle necessary, i.e. "geschossen". Fixed it as it's not part of your question.
    – Em1
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:03
  • 2
    If you'd like to extend the question, please be so kind as to edit it into the question instead of using the comments, or start a new question if the extension differs to strongly from the original intent. Comments are not meant to exist forever :) Have a nice day! Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:31
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    @Bergmann Your sentence is funny. ;) If Müller is the right post and Kruse the left post, then the goals are made out of Müller and Kruse. That's what it reads. ;) No, "die Tore sind aus Aluminium", but "die Tore sind von Müller und Kruse geschossen/erzielt worden.
    – Em1
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:49
  • 2
    Die Tore sind von Müller und Kruse, aber das würde man nicht so sagen. Möglich ist aber zum Beispiel: Das Spiel endete 2:0 mit Toren von Müller und Kruse.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:59

3 Answers 3


The premise is incorrect, the expression is not in the passive voice and thus there is no omitted *werden. Passive voice would require a past participle (Partizip II) along with werden, but all you have is a finite verb which just happens to be past tense: schossen.

Instead, the sentence is a product of the free German word order that does not require a passive voice to switch the object’s and the subject’s positions. In German you can simply say:

Die Tore {akk} schossen Müller und Kruse {nom}.

The ordering makes sense because the old information (that goals were shot) is at the beginning of the sentence while the new information (who shot them) is near the end. Most likely the former sentence was

Das Spiel FC Bayern gegen TSV Hintertupflfing endete 2:0. Die Tore …

Of course, one could achieve the same in a passive voice which would then be:

Die Tore {now nom} wurden von Müller und Kruse {now dat.} geschossen.

However, this adds two words to a sentence without helping the structure one bit, so it is generally not used. If you wanted to do the same thing in English (i.e. put the shooters at the end of the sentence), you have to resort to the passive voice due to the strict SVO word order:

Müller and Kruse shot the goals.
The goals shot Müller and Kruse (not possible)
The goals were shot by Müller and Kruse.


Usually, one would say:

Kruse und Müller schossen die Tore.

However, your word order is perfectly legal in German, albeit strange, as there is no inflection that would allow to discern case. It is more common if case can be recognized easily:

Den Mann biss der Hund. (The dog bit the man)

Yet your world knowledge makes clear that goals usually don't score people, so it can be done in your example. However, most of the time German sticks to subject, verb, object as well.

  • OSV isn’t that rare, especially in (sports) journalism, when the object is either considered more important altogether or it was already (implicitly) mentioned in the sentence before. Except in grammar books, I actually doubt that this order is significantly more common where case is morphologically visible (i.e. mostly with masculine or neuter singular nouns).
    – Crissov
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 17:42

The verb is, as was said, inflected for the active voice.

The expression is headed by the object of the verb, hence the expression as a whole might appear like a passive construction. The sentence might be accidentally parsed as "the goals shot Müller and Kruse"--poor Müller, he didn't deserve to be shot.

However, no equivalent to "to shoot somebody" exists in German without the use of prepositios (rather "auf jemanden schießen", "jemanden erschießen"). And the passive voice would need a preposition as well, "Tore wurden von Müller geschossen".

The crux is not just, that German has free word order. Free word order is not the general case. "Der Frau gab einen Brief der Briefträger"--or something along those lines that was posted on here a few years ago--had confused even me as a native speaker. I'd really love to find it again, but had no luck with my searches so far.

"Torschießen" is an idiom, and I'd argue that it derives this expression, but that's besides the point.

Since we can have "Es schossen Tore Müller und Kruse", one might argue in fact that "toreschießen" can be bi-transitive.

With poetic license, "Tore Müller und Kruse schossen" and "Müller and Kruse Tore schossen" would go through, at least in ye olde times. But that's rather unusual now, and maybe it would have counted for bad poetry back then. But free word order is free word order. Bag of words, discarding sequential information, is actually a tried approach in computational linguistics. However "Die Tore Müller und Kruse" means "the fools Müller und Kruse" (though it have to be "Der Tor", the fool, not "das Tor", the goal), which is an additional reason against free word order.

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