I am learning about impersonal constructions with 'es'. My textbook says that sometimes the 'es' is implied in such sentences:

Jetzt wird geschlafen

This is translated as 'it's time to go to sleep now'. However, I don't understand how this meaning is created. It's not intuitive for me.

Is 'Jetzt' the subject of the sentence? Would the non-passive construction be:

Es ist jetzt Zeit zu schlafen

Why is the passive construction not:

Es wird jetzt geschlafen


1 Answer 1


There simply is no subject in Jetzt wird geschlafen.

The sentence mentions nobody specifically, and the impersonal passive does not require a subject.

Es wird jetzt geschlafen.

is also correct. Here a placeholder-es (an expletive) is used as a formal subject, filling the first position in the sentence, because Wird jetzt geschlafen is only correct as a question, as a statement it would violate the verb-second rule.

Es ist jetzt Zeit zu schlafen.

is also correct but uses different words to express the meaning.

Also possible but a bit unusual is:

Geschlafen wird jetzt.

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