When do we use the passive voice?
The passive is used when the speaker/writer wants to put emphasis on the action and object of the sentence rather than the subject doing the action.The passive voice tells us that… either it is:
- not important who does something; or
- we don’t know who is doing something
- D’Gebai gëtt renovéiert. – The building is being renovated.
I don’t know who is renovating the building and it isn’t important as well. What is important is the building that is being renovated.
So, a passive voice sentence may or may not include the “agent” (by whom something
If the agent is a person or an entity, it is expressed in Luxembourgish with a vun–phrase:
- D’Gebai gëtt vun der Gemeng renovéiert. – The building is being renovated by the commune.
How do you build the passive voice ?
In English the passive voice is done with the verb “be” + past participle, as in our example:
The building is being renovated. – D’Gebai gëtt renovéiert.
Whereas in Luxembourgish we use the verb ginn:
ginn + past participle
Now, make sure to know the conjugation of ginn.
Present Tense Imperfect Tense
ech ginn ech gouf
du gëss du goufs
hien/hatt/si gëtt hien/hatt/si gouf
mir ginn mir goufen
Dir / dir gitt Dir / dir gouft
si ginn si goufen
The past participle of the verb ginn is ginn and it is a verb that takes sinn as an auxiliary. To build a passive sentence in the present perfect you need to respect this construction:
sinn + past participle + ginn
D’Gebäi ass renovéiert ginn. – The building has been renovated.
To conjugate intransitive verbs (verbs that take an indirect object) the passive voice is built with the verb “kréien”. This will be the subject of a future lesson.
Putting the Passive Voice Together
We need to make sure to use the correct tense of the verb ginn:
For all our examples I will take as the subject De Kuch and as it is the passive voice, we don’t know (it is not important) who is baking the cake.
De Kuch gëtt haut gebak. – The cake is being baked today.
De Kuch gouf gëschter gebak. – The cake was baked yesterday.
De Kuch ass e Mëttwoch gebak ginn. – The cake has been baked on Wednesday.
In Luxembourgish we make no difference between the imperfect and present perfect tense.
De Kuch gëtt muer gebak. – The cake will be baked tomorrow.
Remember that there is no future tense in Luxembourgish. So we use the present tense and often an adverb of time like in our phrase muer to emphasize that the action is in the future.
De Kuch muss haut gebak ginn. – The cake must be baked today.
Put the following sentences in the passive voice:
- Den Dokter Weber huet meng Mamm operéiert.
- Um Chrëschtmaart drénken d’Leit vill Glühwäin.
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