When someone says

Ich heiße Hans.

are they using a passive or an active verb? I know from looking up heißen in a dictionary that it is intransitive in this usage. But the dictionary makes no comment about its voice (active/passive).

Furthermore, how would you classify "Hans" in the above sentence? It cannot be an object, since the verb is intransitive. Would it be an adverb?

1 Answer 1


German passive voice is built with the auxiliary werden plus Partizip II of the verb to put in passive. It's never passive voice when you miss one of these two.

Ich heiße Hans.

This sentence is of the A is B type, with Hans being a Prädikativ, a further description of the subject or an object. You often encounter it with the verbs bleiben, heißen, scheinen, sein, and werden.

  • That makes sense. So it's much like the English sentence, "I become a doctor." The word "become" is not passive. Rather, it is a verb that takes a subject predicate. Is there a name for this class of verbs, or for this type of sentence? Other than calling it A is B?
    – ktm5124
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 3:56
  • 2
    These verbs are called Kopula when used this way.
    – Janka
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 4:38

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