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Passive in Spanish (voz pasiva)

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In English and Spanish we use both, the active and the passive voice. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action. 

  • Los mecánicos repararon el coche. (The mechanics repaired the car.)
  • El coche fue reparado por los mecánicos. (The car was repaired by the mechanics.)

​What is the passive?

The passive is a verb form that is used when the subject of the verb is the person or thing that is affected by the action. To form it, you need to follow this steps:

Active voice

La periodista

The journalist



los artículos.

the articles.

Passive voice

Los artículos 

The articles

son escritos

are written

por la periodista.

by the journalist.

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Forming the passive

In English we use the verb to be with a past participle (was painted, are made...) to form the passive. In Spanish, the passive is formed exactly the same way by using the verb ser (to be) and a past participle. To say who the action was done by, you use the preposition por (by).

  • La casa fue construida en 1960. (The house was built in 1960.)
  • El cuadro fue pintado por mi madre. (The picture was painted by my mother.)

enlightenedPassive = verb "ser" + participle + "por" (verb to be + past participle + by)

Tenses in the passive


El pastel es horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake is baked by my grandmother.)

Pretérito Perfecto

El pastel ha sido horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake has been baked by my grandmother.)


El pastel fue horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake was baked by my grandmother.)


El pastel era horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake was baked by my grandmother.)


El pastel había sido horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake had been baked by my grandmother.)

Futuro simple

El pastel será horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake will be baked by my grandmother.)

Futuro compuesto

El pastel habrá sido horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake will have been baked by my grandmother.)

Condicional simple

El pastel sería horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake would be baked by my grandmother.)

Condicional compuesto

El pastel habría sido horneado por mi abuela.

(The cake would have been baked by my grandmother.)

When is the passive voice used in Spanish?

Spanish, in general prefers the use of the active voice, especially in everyday communication. However newscasters use the passive voice and it appears frequently in written communication, especially in newspapers or magazine articles.

In written language (especially in journalistic style)

  • Los manifestantes fueron detenidos por la policia. (The protesters were detained by the police)
  • Las becas de investigación han sido suprimidas por el gobierno. (The research scolarships have been suppresed by the government)

To underscore the agent 

  • Los ciudadanos fueron recibidos por el embajador de Francia. (The citizens were welcomed by the ambassador of France)
  • Los niños fueron atendidos por el personal sanitario del hospital. (The kids were catered by the health care personnel of the hospital)

Most frequently used in past and future tenses

  • El poema fue escrito por Lorca. (The poem was writen by Lorca)
  • La boda será celebrada en el salón Primavera. (The wedding will be celebrated at the Primavera ballroom)

The passive construction with the pronoun se (La pasiva refleja)

Spanish has another passive construction more frequently used than ser + past participle. It is called the pasiva refleja because one of its components is the reflexive pronoun se.

  • Se habla español. (Spanish is spoken)
  • Se cierran las puertas a las nueve. (Doors close at nine)

enlightened Se + 3rd person singular or plural

When is the passive construction with "se" used in Spanish?

In everyday communication

  • Se dice que la gasolina va a subir de precio. (It is said that the price of gas is going up)
  • Se dice que este verano va a hacer mucho calor(It is said that this summer is going to be very hot).

If the subject is not a person

  • Se alquila casa amueblada. (Furnished house for rent)
  • Se vende casa amueblada. (Furnished house for sale)

When the "doer" is omitted

  • Se cometieron muchos errores(Many mistakes were made)
  • En Perú, se deforestan alrededor de 150.000 hectáreas al año. (In Peru, about 150,000 hectares are deforested per year)

To underscore an impersonal construction.

  • Se pueden visitar los lugares historicos. (Historical places can be visited)
  • Se puede venir solo o acompañado. (You can come alone or accompanied)



  1. Change the sentences into the passive voice
  2. Passive voice with "se" (pasiva refleja)
  3. Practice the passive voice in Spanish!

Change the sentences into the passive voice

Passive voice with "se" (pasiva refleja)

Practice the passive voice in Spanish!

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Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
Hands down one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of working with. Very knowledgeable in all aspects of Bulgarian (grammar rules, expressions, ...) but also in both English and French, which helps whenever you have a more in-depth question on the how or why something is the way it is in Bulgarian. Furthermore he has his own material and always comes prepared, but he is equally open to changing the subject of a lesson to suit your needs. He is patient, positive and not too scholarly, which is what you need as an adult learning day- to- day Bulgarian.I have been working with him for 18 months now and still look forward to our lessons every week.
An's Bulgarian has tremendously improved since she gave it go a year and a half ago. Of course, It goes without saying that I am pleased to work with such an enthusiastic learner who is living proof that, through hard work and perseverance, everyone can succeed in their language goals. An, you are now an independant user of the language who is able to successfully lead real-live conversations. Pat yourself on the back.
Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
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Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
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Daniela is a very pleasant and brisk teacher who has the talent to make you feel at ease immediately. Her lessons are a nice mix of conversation and theory. Again and again it is a nice hour to look forward to !! Thank you Daniela !!
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Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
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A prepared and kind teacher, ready to teach with patience and good humor. He provided me with very useful materials to study and review even after the lesson. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a language with a smile. Thanks Silvia :)
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Thank you so much for the Chiara review! It was a real pleasure to have this lesson with you. I wish you a nice trip with the German language!
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The lesson with Celia was perfect! She was puntcual, kind and her teaching method is effective and funny. She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary. Absolutely raccomended.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!