Consider the German translations of the following English sentences:

Women are offered screening.

Screening is offered to women.

I would think the translations would be:

Frauen werden Screening angeboten.

Screening wird Frauen angeboten.

If these translations are not correct, please explain.

  • I know, the question is about passive voice. But the German translation feels sort of incomplete to me: I wonder, whether Screening can/should be translated as well, and whether or not it would need an article in the translation. What is the context here? Is this about a screening for actors? Or is it about a medical screening to detect certain diseases? Something else maybe?
    – Arsak
    Feb 25, 2021 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


Let us start with an active construction:

Man bietet Frauen (Dativ) Screening (Akkusativ) an.

Only the accusative object can become the subject of a passive construction:

Screening (Nominativ) wird Frauen (Dativ) angeboten.

However, the word order is flexible as long as "wird" stays in second position and "angeboten" at the end.

Frauen (Dativ) wird Screening (Nominativ) angeboten.

Note that "Screening" is still the subject, so "wird" is still a singular form.

  • 1
    Yes, that is clear. But what about, "Women are offered to be screened." Could the translation then be, "Frauen wird angeboten, gescreent zu werden."
    – user44591
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:46
  • 1
    @user44591, I am not sure about the English sentence, but the German sentence is correct. What happened here is that the noun "Screening" has been replaced with "gescreent zu werden", which is allowed to go after "angeboten".
    – Carsten S
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:52
  • 1
    "Only the accusative object can become the subject of a passive construction:" This made me wonder what happens when the verb has no accusative object. DeepL gave me Dem Kunden wird geholfen, but this seems wrong. Dem Kunden is dative, but is also the subject (apparently), breaking the "subject is nominative" rule.
    – RDBury
    Feb 25, 2021 at 3:26
  • 2
    @RDBury, your example sentence simply does not have a subject. That this is possible in German has come up here in the past. german.stackexchange.com/questions/36686/satz-ohne-subjekt
    – Carsten S
    Feb 25, 2021 at 8:20
  • 1
    In German, it's even possible to have passive sentences which lack both a subject and an object: "Hier wird zu viel geraucht."
    – RHa
    Feb 25, 2021 at 10:26

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