The following active sentence:

Der Dieb droht uns mit einer Pistole.

is converted to passive as follows:

Uns wird vom Dieb mit einer Pistole gedroht.

The question is: How should we know which conjugation of the modal werden or sein is used after each personal pronoun?

Since uns refers to plural pronoun Wir, why is it followed by wird instead of werden?

1 Answer 1


You are missing the case of uns. That's not nominative. It's dative. Uns isn't the subject. It's the dative object. It tells who has to bear the result of the action.

In German, word order is only one hint of many on the function of an item in the sentence. The case markers are a stronger indicator. Especially, the item in front of the V2 verb isn't the subject in German too often. It's the topic. The subject may be also the topic, but any other item may be the topic either. So that position in front of the V2 verb gives no hint at all about the grammatical function of the item at that place.

In fact, the sentence Uns wird vom Dieb mit einer Pistole gedroht. has no subject. It's a so-called impersonal or subjectless passive. The verb conjugation in such clauses is in general third person singular.

  • So, based on what the verb werden has been conjugated as wird in the above sentence? Jun 16, 2023 at 14:48
  • 1
    It's based on the impersonal passive, which has a fixed wird. This fits the expletive es which you may put in front if you don't want to specify a topic.
    – Janka
    Jun 16, 2023 at 14:58

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