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  5. "Many letters were written to…

"Many letters were written to him."

Translation:Es wurden ihm viele Briefe geschrieben.

June 1, 2018



Why not "Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben"?


That works, too.


    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.


    No longer in the database. I reported it. 5/27/21


    7/19/21...marked correct


    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...)


      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.


      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.


      Today: Viele Briefen wurden ihm geschrieben. it was not accepted

      I guess It Briefe not Briefen


        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.


        It has been accepted, January 2022.


        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.


        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.


        ... "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.)


        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.


        Thanks for the "plug", artischoke. It's gratifying when you get a bit of positive feedback. I, in return, was pretty impressed with your elucidation of the "there is/ there are" analogy!


        That doesn't quite work as an analogy. In "there are" contructions, "there" is an adverb, and the noun that follows is the subject. "There are three books" could be reordered as, "Three books are there" (although that changes the meaning, it clarifies the grammar).

        Edit: I guess I'm downvoted because my point was the same as artischocke without my realizing it. Neither "Es" nor "there" is plural but rather the subject is plural (in this case "viele Briefe") and "es" is just a dummy word to start off the sentence.


        I am not a grammar expert, but I think it is called a "syntactic expletive" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntactic_expletive) or a "dummy pronoun" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_pronoun). Hope this helps.


        viele briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben


        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"


        Is it really so?

        I have here that the structure "etwas (z. B. einen Brief) an jemanden schreiben" also exists, besides "jemandem etwas schreiben".

        Not sure, but possibly the following example is from Duo:

        Sie schreibt eine E-mail an den Entwickler.


        Same doubt here, why is the verb in plural?


        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.


        AttilatheBrit, thank you for clarifying that "Briefe" is the subject here and that "Es" is just a dummy thing in this sentence.


        DL does not like my translation: "Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben" (copy and paste) and I do not know, why not? The Duden gives the example (copy): "jemandem, an jemanden eine Karte schreiben". )-:


        Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben still doesnt work :-/


        Would "Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben." work? It is like saying "Ein Geschenk an dich." (A gift to you.). Especially since the letters are being given to him in a way that they are being written to him.


        "Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben." DL beharrt oft auf seine Vorgaben. Schade!


        Ja, scheint an manchen Stellen ein wenig eingerostet zu sein! (-;


        it depends on what you want to place emphasis on

        check out this website!


        it explains it really well (good)


        "Ihm wurden viele Briefe geschrieben" was not accepted.


        It looks ok for me. where was the problem?


        Duo has not yet taken over it.


          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.


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


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


          Okay, what about Viele Briefe wurden zu ihm geschriben? I know you can often say "ihm" meaning "to him" but I thought that here it would mean sth like "many letters were written in his name, for him". Not exactly the same. So is it wrong?


          No, you should select another preposition "an ihn" not "zu ihm", because the typical German expression is: "an jemand (accusative) schreiben. = "Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben" or "Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben/Ihm wurden viele Briefe geschrieben". All these translations are correct.


          Okay, thanks. There is so many things I don't understand in this language...


          This is always the case when you learn a new language. (:


          I got "viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben" rejected today.


          Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben - Ja oder nein?


          Laut Duden kann man "ihm schreiben" und "an jemand schreiben". I give an example from the Duden (meaning 2b):



          • jemandem, an jemanden eine Karte schreiben

          The course unfortunately makes again too strong restrictions on the translation possibilities.


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


          Seems OK to me, Bekir. Report it!


          The only problem with your answer is the emphasis on the person. There is no such emphasis in the English sentence.


          Why not: „Ihm wurde viele Briefe geschrieben“.


          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.)


          The English equivalent of that German sentence is "There were many letters written to him." The English sentence actually usednhere has a vaguely similar meaning, but completely different way of communicating, so it's not the best translation.


          Why is it wurden? And not wurde or wird?


          See the comments above: several of them answer your question.


          Only acceping es wurden today. You should give examples before testing

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