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Convert to passive:

Dies führt dazu, dass rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler das Schulziel nicht erreichen kann.

Pretty easy to convert the verb part, it should be "nicht erreichen kann"-> "nicht erreicht werden kann", but I am hesitant to write the answer by replacing just that, since they bolded another part of the sentence, the "rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünfklässer" part.

I suppose one could also rearrange the "das Schulziel" to be before the bolded part, and the follow it by a von to emphasize the passive nature. However, that's not part of the bolded part... hence I have a duobt if that's what they expect us to do.

2 Answers 2

4

Don't think in positions when thinking about German grammar. Think of grammatical functions instead, because word order is much more flexible in German than in English.

First of all, lets transform the subordinate clause in a main clause, so we don't need to care about the fact, that its a subordinate clause:

Rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler kann das Schulziel nicht erreichen.

Let's find the main components:

  • subject
    The subject is always in nominative case and usually a noun phrase or a pronoun. Here it is:

    rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler

    The core of this phrase is the noun »Viertel« (quarter) that comes with the numeral »ein« (one) as determiner and the adverb »rund« (about) that modifies the numeral. These 3 words already build a complete noun group that by itself could be the subject of the sentence, but this inner 3-word-noun-phrase that is inside the outer 6-word-noun-phrase, has another noun phrase as an attribute on its right side. This right attribute is in genitive case, which is very similar to possessive in English grammar. The core of this noun phrase in genitive case is the noun »Fünftklässler« (fifth graders) that has a plural definite article in genitive case (»der«) and a participle (»angemeldeten« = registered) as a left attribute.

    So, the inner structure of this noun group is a little bit complicated, but still the whole 6 words are one noun group in nominative case and this 6-word noun group is the subject of the sentence.

  • predicate
    Note, that in German grammar the term predicate has a narrower meaning than in English grammar. In English anything but the subject belongs to the predicate, but in German only the verb and it's very closest companions belong to the predicate. Objects do by definition not belong to a German predicate.

    kann ... nicht erreichen

    The predicate embraces other parts of speech in a main clause, but is a compact group in a subordinate clause. All verbs (the modal verb »kann« and the full verb »erreichen«) belong to it, but also the negating particle »nicht« belongs to the predicate.

  • object(s)

    Here we have only one object, it is a rather simple noun group in accusative case:

    das Schulziel

    It only consists of a noun as its core (»Schulziel« = school goal) and a singular neuter definite article in accusative case (»das«) as its determiner.

    The group »das Schulziel« could also be interpreted as a group in nominative case in other sentences (»Das Schulziel wurde vorgegeben.«), but we know that the main verb of the sentence (»erreichen«) needs a subject in nominative case and an object in accusative case. But the 6-words-group that we identified as the subject would look identically if used it in accusative case in another sentence. (»Der Direktor begrüßte rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler.«) Since word order does not determine which of both parts must be the subject (»Der Mann erreicht den Wald« = »Den Wald erreicht der Mann«), grammar alone does not help to tell which is the subject and which is the object. Only semantics (meaning) can help us here.


If you want to create a sentence in passive voice, you must do three things:

  1. Transform the predicate into its passive voice form

active: kann ... nicht erreichen
passive: kann ... nicht erreicht werden

  1. Turn the former accusative object into nominative case, so that it becomes the subject of the new sentence

accusative: das Schulziel
nominative: das Schulziel

As mentioned before, both cases look identically here, so it looks, as if nothing had happened, but this is different with other words. Here is an example, where the article and the ending of the noun both change:

accusative: den Studenten
(»Der Held sieht den Studenten.« = »Den Studenten sieht der Held.«)

nominative: der Student
(*»Der Student sieht den Helden.« = »Den Helden sieht **der Student.*«)

  1. What was the subject before, can't be the subject in the passive voice sentence, because step 2 already gave us the subject. The easiest way to solve this is, to omit the former subject completely.

    3.1. omit the former subject

    Das Schulziel kann nicht erreicht werden.

    In this sentence the predicate embraces nothing, but you will see, that this changes in the other version.

    3.2. use the former subject

    If you wish to preserve the former subject, then you must convert the whole noun group in dative case and embed it inside a prepositional object, that begins with the preposition »von« (by):

    • former subject in nominative case

      rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler

    • dative noun group inside a prepositional phrase

      von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler

    Note, that, despite the whole 6-word group has changed its grammatical case, the inner genitive attribute still keeps its inner case and stays a genitive attribute. So in fact only the inner 3-word noun group that was in nominative case before turned into dative case. But »rund« is an adverb and adverbs never change, and the noun »Viertel« is a noun that in dative case looks the same as in nominative case, so it also looks as if it was unchanged (but other nouns will change: »der Bär« → »dem Bären«). The only word, that really noticeable changes here is the indefinite article.

    If you decide, to use this part of speech also in the passive voice sentence, then it looks like this:

    Das Schulziel kann von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler nicht erreicht werden.

    But as I said before: Word order is very flexible in German. This version is also absolutely correct:

    Von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler kann das Schulziel nicht erreicht werden.


Now, lets turn this back into a subordinate clause and add it to the main clause from the beginning. To do so, you only need to take the inflected verb (which here is the modal verb kann), that in main clauses always stands at position 2, and move it to the very end of the sentence.

Dies führt dazu, dass das Schulziel nicht erreicht werden kann.

Dies führt dazu, dass das Schulziel von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler nicht erreicht werden kann.

Dies führt dazu, dass von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler das Schulziel nicht erreicht werden kann.

All three sentences are in passive voice and all three are absolute correct solutions of your task.

2
  • Why did it turn to präteritum at end?
    – Babu
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:23
  • @ReineAbstraktion: Because I made an error. I edited my answer to correct it. Sep 27, 2023 at 14:23
1

They want you to retain

rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler

in your answer. To do that properly, you have to know what that item is in the original sentence. It has several cases. They did that to confuse you.

Someone who is unaware of genitive supplements or shaky with adjective declinations may assume der angemeldeten Fünftklässler is the subject because the nominative is der Fünftklässler. But you always have to pick up all the clues in German, and that angemeldeten gives away that this is plural. So der angemeldeten Fünftklässler can't be nominative (that would be die Fünftklässler) and thus, this isn't the subject and an answer as

Dies führt dazu, dass das Schulziel rund ein Viertel von dem angemeldeten Fünftklässler nicht erreicht werden kann.

is wrong. Instead, that whole part rund ein Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler is the subject, and the correct answer is

Dies führt dazu, dass das Schulziel von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler nicht erreicht werden kann.


I suppose one could also rearrange the "das Schulziel" to be before the bolded part, and the follow it by a von to emphasize the passive nature.

Ah, no. That because das Schulziel isn't the subject of the original sentence as you know by now.

Again, you have to pick up all the clues before deciding which item is what. This is detective work in the beginning. As soon you are more used to typical German phrasings, it will become easier and easier.

Always pick up all the clues.

7
  • How does angemeldten give away that it is plrual
    – Babu
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:30
  • der Fünftklässler can be nominative singular but der angemeldeten Fünftklässler can't be nominative plural. And it must be plural because of angemeldeten.
    – Janka
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:31
  • what role does "rund" do "von rund einem Viertel der angemeldeten Fünftklässler"
    – Babu
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:31
  • Nominative singular would be der angemeldete Fünftklässler. Without the -n. But you have the -n so the only other option is genitive Plural. As Fünftklässler is a masculine noun.
    – Janka
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:33
  • Rund means circa. Circles are round, that's why we say rund.
    – Janka
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:34

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