Basically, according to the proper rules of German, the sentence should be:

Den Kindern wurde geholfen

But my German teacher said that he had never heard of this rule and he would simply say

Den Kindern wurden geholfen

So, the first one is technically right, but is this a rule most Germans are aware of ? Which one would an actual German say? Danke.

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    Find the subject. Hint: It is not there and it is "Es". And that is singular. This construct is called "Subjektloser Passivsatz". And the second sentence looks wrong, sounds wrong and feels wrong. Strong clue it could be wrong ;) – tofro Mar 21 '16 at 23:20
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    Most Germans will not be aware of a rule, they will just correctly use singular ;) – Carsten S Mar 22 '16 at 6:59
  • An (almost confusing) wealth here. Glad I'm a native speaker..! – TaW Mar 22 '16 at 18:25

The second example is wrong. No one would ever use it.

First example: This construct is called "Subjektloser Passivsatz". This occurs when there is no subject in the sentence and this non-existing subject can be replaced with "Es" like in

Es wurde den Kindern geholfen

"Es" is definitely singular and thus the predicate must be singular.

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    Your way of saying first: ... second and first example is very confusing. Can you rephrase that to be less ambiguous? – simbabque Mar 22 '16 at 11:06

I'm a native German speaker and would definitely say "Den Kindern wurde geholfen", and I'd also definitely NEVER say "Den Kindern wurden geholfen". But, please, don't ask me why... ;-)

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    Ok, thanks! I know why it is, it is just that like I said my German teacher said he didn't know about this rule and wouldn't use it... But if native speakers use it, then that is great so thanks! – Jacob Lee-Hart Mar 21 '16 at 23:15
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    If your teacher still doesn't follow your arguments, let him google this "google.de/search?q=den+kindern+wurde+geholfen" ;-) – Thomas Mar 22 '16 at 5:41
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    Even more visual: googlefight.com/… this'd be the n-gram viewer for the poor – hiergiltdiestfu Mar 22 '16 at 8:07
  • Plus 10,000,000 for GoogleFight. i didn't know of it until now (es wurde mir geholfen ;-) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Mar 22 '16 at 10:46

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