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"Many letters were written to him."

Translation:Es wurden ihm viele Briefe geschrieben.

June 1, 2018

52 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KayvonX

Why not "Viele Briefe wurden ihm geschrieben"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/quis_lib_duo

That works, too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
Mod

    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.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LGregCurti

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


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BobD918838

    7/19/21...marked correct


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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...)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
    Mod

      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.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simopr1

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

      I guess It Briefe not Briefen


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
      Mod

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pur__0_0__

        It has been accepted, January 2022.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EmmaRidge

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Agonisti

        ... "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.)


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AttilatheBrit

        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!


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamSmithyGirl

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bremman

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Achimkrick

        viele briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hannorden

        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"


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaheshMarg

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tzolkin2

        Same doubt here, why is the verb in plural?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Araucoforever

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


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RosettaY

        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". )-:


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_JohnLee_

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


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarlFilip19

        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.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jrgen792736

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


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RosettaY

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


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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)


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gSY55q97

        "Ihm wurden viele Briefe geschrieben" was not accepted.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simopr1

        It looks ok for me. where was the problem?


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gSY55q97

        Duo has not yet taken over it.


        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/az_p
        Mod

          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.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bekir978479

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AttilatheBrit

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ololo-518

          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?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RosettaY

          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.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ololo-518

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RosettaY

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michi4688

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasBau2

          Viele Briefe wurden an ihn geschrieben - Ja oder nein?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RosettaY

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

          https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/schreiben

          Copy:

          • jemandem, an jemanden eine Karte schreiben

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bekir978479

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AttilatheBrit

          Seems OK to me, Bekir. Report it!


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Doctor-John

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Annette0T4EvTJn

          Why not: „Ihm wurde viele Briefe geschrieben“.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.)


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve34747

          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.


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Drewnotdrey

          Why is it wurden? And not wurde or wird?


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaulMcCann6

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


          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/werweiss2

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

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