Considering this sentence:

Sie hatten sie die alten Zahnräder geliefert.

Since "mit" is not required in the active sentence, is it required or not in the passive? I find many sentences in DWDS that use mit, but it would appear that the meaning should be entirely clear without it.

Sie waren mit den alten Zahnrädern geliefert worden.

Sie waren die alten Zahnräder geliefert worden.

  • 3
    Using mit and passive are two entirely different issues and have nothing to do with eath other.
    – RHa
    Jul 26, 2022 at 6:09
  • 1
    Could you check your source for these sentences? As @HubertSchölnast explained, the first and the last one have wrong grammar, and the second one either has an error, too, or it means something different from what you seem to think it means. In this form, the question really doesn't make much sense. E.g. could it be "beliefert worden" in the 2nd sentence?
    – HalvarF
    Jul 26, 2022 at 6:11
  • Situation is further complicated by existence of separable verb mitliefern, see DWDS.
    – guidot
    Jul 26, 2022 at 9:17

3 Answers 3


Your first sentence is wrong:

wrong: Sie hatten sie die alten Zahnräder geliefert.
They had they delivered the old gears.
correct: Sie hatten die alten Zahnräder geliefert.
They had delivered the old gears.

The components of this sentence:

  • sie
    subject and agent
  • hatten ... geliefert
  • die alten Zahnräder
    accusative object and patient

The agent is the person or thing who/that performs an action. The patient is the person or thing on who/that the action is performed.

active voice:

  • agent = subject and mandatory
  • patient = accusative object

passive voice:

  • agent = optional (if present, is is part of a prepositional object)
  • patient = subject

The correct passive forms are (optional agent in brackets):

  • Zustandspassiv

    Die alten Zahnräder sind (von ihnen) geliefert worden.

  • Vorgangspassiv

    Die alten Zahnräder waren (von ihnen) geliefert worden.

Here is the translation of your second sentence:

Sie waren mit den alten Zahnrädern geliefert worden.
They had been supplied with the old gears.

This sentence is not wrong, but it has a completely different meaning than the first sentence. It is in passive voice, but what was the agent in the first sentence is here the patient and the former patient is now neither agent nor patient but a part of a prepositional object.

You last sentence is also wrong:

wrong: Sie waren die alten Zahnräder geliefert worden.
correct: Ihnen waren die alten Zahnräder geliefert worden.

This is in English:

The old gears had been delivered to them.

But the passive form of the first sentence is:

Die alten Zahnräder waren von ihnen geliefert worden.
The old gears had been delivered by them.

  • 1
    Die alten Zahnräder sind geliefert worden is not Zustandspassiv but Vorgangspassiv perfect. Zustandspassiv would be Die alten Zahnräder sind geliefert.
    – RHa
    Jul 26, 2022 at 6:08

The first example is wrong grammar. The second "sie" is an accusative object and needs to be "ihnen". "liefern" is not in passive there.

If "mit" is required does not depend on active vs passive but on what you intend to say. The second example requires it if I interpret correctly what you intend to say there.

It might be easier for you to decide active vs passive if you look at examples in present tense:

Sie liefern Ihnen Zahnräder mit kleinen Zacken. (Aktiv)

"sie" is a person in this example.

Sie werden mit kleinen Zacken geliefert. (Passiv)

"sie" is the thing being delivered (cog wheels) in this example.


Sie hatten sie die alten Zahnräder geliefert.

is wrong, it must be:

Sie hatten ihnen die alten Zahnräder geliefert.

Turning this sentence into passive yields:

Die alten Zahnräder waren ihnen von ihnen geliefert worden.

So no, there is no mit that would be required. Using mit changes the meaning of the sentence.

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