I wrote a quick email to my doctor yesterday and hastily wrote the sentence below.

"Nach der Untersuchung wurde ich eine CD mit den Befunden gegeben"

Then I was wondering, When you use gegeben in the passive like this, does it actually need to be "....wurde mir eine CD gegeben"?

Or would you just scrap "gegeben" all together and use a verb like "bekommen"?

3 Answers 3


It's "mir wurde eine CD gegeben", your sentence therefore is "Nach der Untersuchung wurde mir eine CD mit den Befunden gegeben."

The general form of the verb is "jemandem etwas geben". Jemandem is the object, etwas is the subject.

In your sentence, "mir" is therefore the object, whereas "CD" is the subject. That's the reason why it's "mir" and not "ich".

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    Just to avoid confusion about word order, of course the whole sentence then becomes: "Nach der Untersuchung wurde mir eine CD mit den Befunden gegeben."
    – HalvarF
    Apr 15, 2021 at 7:50
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    Maybe it's helpful to look at "I was given a CD" compared to "A CD was given to me". Those are both fine in English, but in German the first isn't really used. So "A CD was given to me" translates to "Eine CD wurde mir gegeben", or in a more natural word order, "Mir wurde eine CD gegeben". Apr 15, 2021 at 10:26

You are probably translating the English "I was given". In the English sentence, the recipient is the subject and the CD is the object. In German, the CD is the subject and the recipient is dative.

The sentence with "bekommen" is simpler and avoids the "mir wurde gegeben":

Nach der Untersuchung habe ich eine CD mit den Befunden bekommen.

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    Maybe to further clarify the difference to the English "I was given a CD.", it makes sense to think of the literal English translation of "Mir wude eine CD gegeben." as "A CD was given to me." Apr 15, 2021 at 9:15

When a sentence is turned into passive, the accusative object becomes the subject. But a dative object still remains a dative object.

Because of this, "Er gab mir eine CD" becomes "Mir wurde [von ihm] eine CD gegeben". "Ich wurde eine CD gegeben" is incorrect because mir is dative and must appear unchanged in the passive sentence. It cannot become Ich.

In this regard, German differs from English which does not distinguish between accusative and dative objects. Hence, in English one can say "I was given a CD".

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