So if I wanted to say to be improved, should I use verbessert werden or sich verbessern?


Es kann verbessert werden.


Es kann sich verbessern.

  • Depends. What is the full English sentence?
    – Em1
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 7:29

3 Answers 3


"Es kann sich verbessern"

implies that "it" can improve itself.
"It" can be the weather, for instance.

"Es kann verbessert werden"

means that someone else can improve "it".
"It" can be the weather control machine, for instance :)


to be improved is passive (vs. "to improve") and probably should be translated with passive.

Es kann verbessert werden


There is a single German word addressing all genders and things:


  • 1
    It doesn't really mean that it can be improved though... Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:54
  • "Wir arbeiten kontinuierlich an der Steigerung unseres Optimierungspotentials"
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 21:57
  • Foobar has to be improved before shipping. Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 13:16
  • Quite mysterious comments here: does anybody care to elaborate (possibly stating reason for downvote)? I guess userunknown wants to point out, that there are contexts, where my proposal does not work, which is hardly a surprise.
    – guidot
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 13:43
  • 'It could still be improved, but it is a very good effort.' Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:16

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