I learned today in class that I can create a passive-voice sentence like this:

Das Zimmer muss gestrichen werden.

That makes sense. But now I'm second guessing myself about this sentence:

Der Zug muss gekommen werden.

Because it involves movement, should I use sein instead of werden?

Or does that rule only apply to active sentences like der Zug ist gekommen?

I assume the latter, but I want to double-check this before drilling examples into my head, lest I learn it wrong.

  • The below (already accepted) answer is of course right, but I am confused what you were even trying to say with "der Zug muss gekommen werden".
    – wonderbear
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


The accusative object becomes the subject in a passive construction. The verb "kommen" does not take an accusative object, so the passive construction isn't possible to begin with.

  • In principle, an impersonal passive sentence is possible with kommen: "Es wird gekommen." But this does not make much sense here.
    – RHa
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 21:22
  • @RHa, right, that would be a sentence without a subject. Good to keep that possibility in mind.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 23:01
  • @CarstenS Don't forget about bekommen-Passiv which makes the Dativ object the subject :) Commented May 18, 2023 at 2:47
  • I think this answer somehow weasels around actually answering the question. The question essentially asks how to build a passive sentence for a verb that uses sein rather than haben. This answer does not answer this question and just points out that the OP's example is unsuitable. Now, I'm not saying there is a good example, but maybe this should be made explicit then - something like "Verbs using 'sein' as an auxiliary verb never have an accusative object and thus cannot be put into passive voice.", if that is the case. Commented May 18, 2023 at 19:46

Because it involves movement, should I use sein instead of werden?

You're confusing the use of werden in a passive construction and the use of haben or sein as the auxiliary for the perfect. And it is complicated by the fact that you're using müssen. Let's look at some examples, all passive:

Das Zimmer wird gestrichen.
Das Zimmer ist gestrichen worden.
Das Zimmer wurde gestrichen.
Das Zimmer muss gestrichen werden.
Das Zimmer musste gestrichen werden.

So werden is the verb that is being conjugated, e.g. wird in present, ist worden in perfect and wurde in the past. Here you see that werden takes sein as the auxiliary for perfect. The verb that is describing the (passive) action is always the same, participle II.
When using the müssen modal, that one gets conjugated, werden stays in the infinitive.

Now two different perfect examples with haben and sein for your train:

Der Zug hat in Braunschweig angehalten.
Der Zug ist an Wolfsburg vorbei gefahren.

This is active voice perfect, and the auxiliary depends on the verb. You already know the rule that, generally, sein is used for movement and haben for everything else.

Unfortunately, these sentences cannot be put into passive mode, because it was the train itself that stopped or went past Wolfsburg, nobody did that to it.

The transition from active to passive would go like this:

Der Lokführer hat den Zug angehalten. -> Der Zug ist angehalten worden.
Der Lokführer hat den Zug gefahren. -> Der Zug ist gefahren worden.

These anhalten and fahren do not mean exactly the same thing as in the active examples above. Hence the perfect is built with haben as the auxiliary verb.

Looking over a list of 70 German verbs that take sein there is not a single one that can be put into passive, just like Carsten pointed out in his answer. Some of those, but with a different meaning, can be used in passive - such as fahren or reiten.

To answer the second part of your question:

Or does that rule only apply to active sentences like der Zug ist gekommen?

Yes, that rule only applies to the active voice. In passive voice it's always werden which is conjugated, which always takes sein as auxiliary. werden in the sense of "to become", in active voice, also takes sein.

Edit: Thanks to O. R. Mapper for pointing out the flaw(s) in the previous version of my answer.

  • 1
    Arguably, your examples cannot be put into passive, either - for example, "Der Zug ist gefahren." and "Der Zug wird gefahren." are two different verbs, the latter of which uses "haben" again for its past participle: "Ich habe den Zug gefahren." Commented May 18, 2023 at 19:42
  • Absolutely, somehow missed that. Corrected my answer. Commented May 18, 2023 at 20:48

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