The active voice of the verb is like this:

Ich kümmere mich um die Kinder.

But I know the passive voice of that verb is like this:

Es wird sich um die Kinder gekümmert.

Now my question is: Is sich in the second sentence (the one in the passive voice) redundant? I can't get rid of this feeling that tells me you can get rid of "sich" and the sentence would be like this:

Es wird um die Kinder gekümmert.

Is the third sentence right? Do the Germans remove it in colloquial language?

1 Answer 1


sich kümmern is an intransitive (no object in accusative) reflexive verb. The object is normally a prepositional object connected with "um".

That means it cannot go (never) without the reflexive pronoun.

That also means it cannot (except in colloquial situations) have an object other than a prepositional one.

The only colloquialism that can sometimes be observed is the omission of the prepositional object when it's obvious from the context, like in

Meine Mutter hat sich letzte Woche den Oberschenkel gebrochen, deswegen muss ich mich grade ein bißchen kümmern.

Active or passive usage doesn't change anything to these rules, so your last example is gramatically wrong and sounds wierd to native ears.

Passive is BTW pretty uncommon with "sich kümmern um" - Normally, native speakers would likely get rid of the passive and instead use an impersonate subject like

Man kümmert sich um die Kinder

  • 2
    In general, most reflexive verbs are, in effect, intransitive. So it wouldn't make sense for them have a passive voice anyway. This is an example where the verb becomes (in effect) transitive with the addition of a preposition, and it appears that German normally solves this conundrum with man. English seems to treat prepositional verbs differently: "You lied to me" becomes "I was lied to", though "Someone lied to me" has more or less the same meaning. This can become awkward though, so "They complain about the food" rather than "The food is complained about."
    – RDBury
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 23:09
  • 1
    @RDBury "lügen" is maybe a bad example in German - there's "anlügen", that already incorporates the preposition for the prepositional object which makes it, in effect, transitive.
    – tofro
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 7:30
  • Yes lügen does not work, so I only used the English. I just used "to lie (to)" as an example in English of a verb that becomes 'transitive' with the help of a preposition; they exist in English and German but not always translations of each other. But I think *beschweren*/"complain" is such a pair.
    – RDBury
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 17:20
  • 2
    I don't think that the passive is that uncommon. I hear "Wird sich gut um die Kinder gekümmert?" quite often. Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 18:21

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