Passive in Danish, English, and German




We show how the variation in the passive in Danish, English, and German can be accounted for. The dimensions in which the three languages differ are

  • the existence of a morphological passive in Danish
  • a subject requirement in Danish and English resulting in expletive insertion in impersonal constructions in Danish and absence of impersonal passives in English
  • the possibility to promote the secondary object to subject in Danish
The differences are accounted for by differences in the structural/lexical case distinction and by mapping processes that insert expletives in Danish. The passive in general is accounted for by a lexical rule that is uniform across languages and hence captures the generalization regarding passive.




How to Cite

Müller, Stefan & Ørsnes, Bjarne. 2013. Passive in Danish, English, and German. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 140–160. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2013.8) ( (Accessed June 28, 2022.)