Die Polizei sagt, es wird von einer organisierten Bande ausgegangen.

How come in this sentence the verb "ausgehen" is in the passive voice? I thought the passive voice was only with verbs that comes with an Akkusativ. Please translate this sentence literally to English. The auxiliary verb should have been "sein" not "werden". What do you think guys?

  • I don't understand it yet.. Is "Die Polizei sagt, sie gehen von einer org. Bande aus." better?
    – choXer
    Oct 2, 2021 at 21:16
  • 1
    It is probably not a duplicate given the specific example, but you can find information on what you're asking about at german.stackexchange.com/questions/49897/… (among other places - this is a frequently asked question on this platform). For grammatical details, see for instance grammis.ids-mannheim.de/systematische-grammatik/1068 or Helbig/Buscha, Deutsche Grammatik (2001), 145ff (both in German). Exercises for learners can be found in Helbig/Buscha, Übungsgrammatik Deutsch (2000), 64f.
    – johnl
    Oct 2, 2021 at 22:08
  • “Please translate this sentence literally to English.” What’s the point if you are asking about grammar, and English and German grammar differ?
    – Carsten S
    Oct 3, 2021 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


This is indirect speech, so it should be Konjunktiv I instead of Indikativ:

Die Polizei sagt, es werde von einer organisierten Bande ausgegangen.

Now it is a correct sentence.

But now for the passive voice:

You can build the unpersönliches Passiv with every verb you want. There are two ways to do so:

  • Use either an adverbiale Bestimmung at position 1:

    Hier wird nicht geraucht!
    Jetzt wird geschlafen!
    Gestern wurde viel getanzt.

  • Or you to fill position 1 with a word that has no semantic meaning, and that is here only for syntactic reasons: the syntactic expletive es:

    Es wird gemunkelt, die Impfung wäre schädlich.
    Es wird zu viel geredet.
    Es wurde an völlig unpassenden Stellen gelacht.

Your sentence belongs to the second group.

Both versions result in a sentence without a subject. Although the expletive es looks like a subject, it still is not, because you can move a subject to other places in the sentence, but you can't do this with an expletivum (who's only purpose is to fill position 1 of the sentence):

  • Subject on position 1 can move:

    Kurt wurde heute morgen ausgelacht.
    Heute morgen wurde Kurt ausgelacht. <- correct

  • Expletivum on position 1 can't move:

    Es wurde heute morgen gelacht.
    Heute morgen wurde es gelacht. <- wrong
    Heute morgen wurde gelacht. <- correct

  • Actually there are a few verbs from which no passive at all can be formed (Nicht passivfähige Verben), for example bekommen.
    – RHa
    Oct 3, 2021 at 18:46

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