"Many letters were written to him."

Translation:Es wurden ihm viele Briefe geschrieben.

June 1, 2018

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/KayvonX

Why not "Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben"?

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/quis_lib_duo
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That works, too.

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
Mod
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It's now in the database. Thanks to those who submitted reports!

That said, mizinamo points out here that the sentence order in Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben, while grammatically correct, sounds a bit unusual due to the emphasis given to viele Briefe at the head of the sentence, which contrasts somewhat with the otherwise flat, matter-of-fact tone that the passive sentence would otherwise have.

Word order is something you can read further on if you want to improve your feeling for it. The important thing to learn here is that passive constructions with Es… at the beginning are entirely common and often the most natural way to phrase something.

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulMcCann6

That was my construction as well: sounds prettier to my non-native ears, as well, or at least more in tune with the other examples in this topic. (Reported again...)

July 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
Mod
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There's nothing better about this translation compared to Duo's. It in fact emphasises viele Briefe a little more than usual. The passive voice in German just allows for a fairly flexible way of ordering the sentence to achieve the desired emphasis and rhythm.

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulMcCann6

Fair enough: 'twas only "to my non-native ears", which (evidently) lack some teutonic fine tuning ;-)

Thanks for adding the alternative, and for all the helpful pointers about how the word order changes the emphasis.

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/simopr1
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Today: Viele Briefen wurden ihm geschrieben. it was not accepted

I guess It Briefe not Briefen

July 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
Mod
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Correct, the plural of Brief is Briefe. Only in dative case would you add an -n to the plural, but here viele Briefe is in nominative case.

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaRidge
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Can anyone explain how the 'es' works in this sentence please. I think of 'es' as 'it' and singular but the sentence seems to cry out for a plural of some sort. Can 'es' be used as a plural thing (pronoun?) here? Thank you.

June 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/artischocke

Yes, it's a placeholder for the subject so that the verb can be in the second position. And it does work in the plural, which was also a huge surprise to me as it seemed like a clear subject-verb error. There's also es geben and es sind, so long as the complement is plural.

September 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Agonisti
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... "It" can be plural? Why not just use the actual third person plural? Groans in pain

(It's unclear enough for me why the sentence isn't just "Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben" in the first place [or "Ihm wurden Viele Briefe geschrieben"], the "es" does not really seem to do anything here.)

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/artischocke

A more productive way to think about it might be to equate it to the "there is/there are" construction in English. Asking why "es" can be plural in that specific construction would be like asking why is "there" in "there are" plural... Neither add any meaning to the sentence (where exactly is the "there" in "there are"?) It's just weird because it's unusual to our eyes, but functionally the construction is no different than the English counterpart. On the bright side, the weirdness does fade once you're exposed to it enough :) AttilatheBrit explains the rest of your question pretty well in another comment on this thread.

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/amir2121
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Maybe the 'es' is a scenario? There is an event in which letters were written to him... it's still awkward and I wonder if a native would ever say it this way (with the es)

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/gSY55q97
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"Ihm wurden viele Briefe geschrieben" was not accepted.

August 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/simopr1
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It looks ok for me. where was the problem?

August 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/gSY55q97
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Duo has not yet taken over it.

August 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
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Added now! It's also grammatically possible.

But be aware that Duo's example sounds the most neutrally-emphasised. Wording it with Ihm wurden… changes the emphasis around a bit. If that's not intended, it's best to stick to Duo's example.

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/gSY55q97
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Thank you very much for the adding. : )

October 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Bekir978479

''Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben'' Warum denn ist das abgelehnt?

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AttilatheBrit

Es ist einfach nicht in der Datenbank! Und es gibt nicht genug Personal, um es hineinzulegen!

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoIngTheThing
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AttilatheBrit - Das ist schade.

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AttilatheBrit

Genau!

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hollyleaf___

it depends on what you want to place emphasis on

check out this website!

http://germanforenglishspeakers.com/basics/sentence-structure/

it explains it really well (good)

June 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Tzolkin2

Same doubt here, why is the verb in plural?

June 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AttilatheBrit

The verb is in the plural because "Briefe" is the real subject here. "Es" is only a dummy subject to bring "wurden" to the front for style or change of emphasis. Its a bit like saying "There were a lot of letters written to him" rather than "Many letters were written to him": a style change with little meaning change.

August 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoIngTheThing
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AttilatheBrit - I agree, with the caveat that it should be "a lot of letters...".

August 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AttilatheBrit

Thank you DuoingTheThing. Of course! I've tweeked it!

August 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Bekir978479

Ihm wurden viele Briefe geschrieben wird noch nicht akzeptiert. Aergerlich!

August 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AttilatheBrit

Seems OK to me, Bekir. Report it!

August 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Doctor-John
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The only problem with your answer is the emphasis on the person. There is no such emphasis in the English sentence.

August 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Annette0T4EvTJn

Why not: „Ihm wurde viele Briefe geschrieben“.

August 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulMcCann6

It should be “wurden”, as others have mentioned above: the subject here is “Briefe”. (But I’m guessing it still won’t get a tick: the list of correct answers seems to be missing a few relatively straightforward ones.)

August 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Achimkrick

viele briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben

September 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MightyBlomman
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That unfortunately doesn't really make sense in German. You need to drop the preposition "an" and use the dative form of "er" ("ihm") in order to imply "to him" in this case.

"Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben"

October 15, 2018
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