Screen width of at least 320px is required. Screen width can be adjusted by widening your browser window or adjusting your mobile device settings. If you are on a mobile device, you can also try orienting to landscape.

The Impersonal “es”


I. Theory

Generally, es is a pronoun that corresponds to “it” in German and represents singular neuter subjects. However, es is also used as a placeholder for a subject in sentences where no specific subject is found. We see this at times in English in examples such as “It is raining” or “It’s quiet in the library”.

While es is used with weather expressions, as it is in English, the impersonal es is found in additional instances which are not found in English.

Es zieht.
There is a draft.

Es klopft.
Someone is knocking (at the door).

Es tut mir leid.
I’m sorry.

Es fehlt nur noch Katrin.
We’re only missing Katrin.

As you can see from the examples above, the impersonal es is often translated in English as “there is/are” or, “something/someone” may be used as the subject.

II. Es with Werden

The impersonal es is often found in conjunction with werden in the passive voice.

End of free content.

To access this material, please LOG IN.

If you don't have a subscription, please click HERE to sign up for this program.