Passive in Spanish (voz pasiva)
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.)
- 1.What is the passive?
- 1.1.Forming the passive
- 2.Tenses in the passive
- 3.When is the passive voice used in Spanish?
- 3.1.In written language (especially in journalistic style)
- 3.2.To underscore the agent
- 3.3.Most frequently in past and future tenses
- 4.The passive construction with the pronoun se (La pasiva refleja)
- 5.When is the passive construction with "se" used in Spanish?
- 5.1.In everyday communication
- 5.2.If the subject is not a person
- 5.3.When the "doer" is omitted
- 5.4.To underscore an impersonal construction.
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:
por la periodista.
by the journalist.
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.)
Passive = 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.)
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.)
El pastel será horneado por mi abuela.
(The cake will be baked by my grandmother.)
El pastel habrá sido horneado por mi abuela.
(The cake will have been baked by my grandmother.)
El pastel sería horneado por mi abuela.
(The cake would be baked by my grandmother.)
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 reasearch 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 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)
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 sale)
- Se vende. (Furnished house for rent)
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)
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