Using man as an alternative to the passive


It is possible to replace a passive construction by using man as part of an active sentence:

Es wird gesagt, Irland ist sehr schön. → Man sagt, Irland ist sehr schön.
It is said that Ireland is very beautiful. → People say Ireland is very beautiful.
Das Problem wurde geregelt. → Man regelte das Problem.
The problem resolved.→ Somebody resolved the problem.

Note that the alternative structure with man is commonly used in German.

The passive with sein

In a few instances, the passive in German is formed with the appropriate form of sein + past participle. In contrast to the German passive with werden which describes an action or a process, the sein-passive focuses on the state of a person or thing, often as a result of an action carried out previously:

Der Tisch wird gedeckt. → Der Tisch ist gedeckt.
The table is being laid. (i.e. at this moment). → The table is laid (i.e. as a result of it having been laid).

Das Geschäft wird geschlossen → Das Geschäft ist geschlossen.
The shop is being closed. → The shop is closed.

Die Stadt wurde wiederaufgebaut. → Die Stadt war wieder aufgebaut
The city was being rebuilt. The city was rebuilt again.
Note that this form of the passive is much less used than the passive with werden and usually occurs in the present and simple past tense.