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Spanish Lesson Intermediate 30 Passive sentences Posted by on Feb 29, 2012 in Learning, Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary, Videos

Hola ¿Qué tal?

Hoy vamos a ver las oraciones pasivas. Today we are going to look at how to construct passive sentences in Spanish.

The Passive Voice (La voz pasiva) in English is formed by using a form of the verb “to be” followed by a past participle. The same rule applies in Spanish, where a form of El verbo Ser or Estar is followed by a Spanish past participle which is modified if necessary to agree in number and gender with the subject of the sentence.

Probably the best way of understanding what passive sentences exactly are is to contrast them with “active” sentences. For example: “La niña tocó el piano” (The girl played the piano) is an active sentence where “the girl” is the subject of the sentence (the one who does the action of the verb, i.e. the playing). To express this situation using The Passive Voice we would say: “El piano fue tocado por la niña” (The piano was played by the girl) where “the piano” is the subject of the sentence instead of the girl.

Passive sentences = Verbo ser/estar + participio:

When we refer to the action itself: Verbo ser + participio (o/a/os/as):

• Las leyes son escritas por los políticos: The laws are written by the politicians
• Un perro ha sido encontrado en el parque: A dog has been found in the park
• Las joyas fueron encontradas por los exploradores: The jewels were found by the explorers
• Las casas habían sido pintadas por los empleados: The houses had been painted by the employees
• “El Guernica” fue pintado por Picasso: “El Guernica” was painted by Picasso
• El partido es ganado por el equipo que se esfuerza más: The match is won by the team that makes the bigger effort
• Un policía ha sido herido por una bomba : A policeman has been injured by a bomb
• El bicho fue comido por el pájaro: The bug was eaten by a bird

When we refer to the final result and are not interested in the process: Verbo estar + participio:

• La nueva ley está mal redactada: The new law is badly written
• Los ciudadanos estaban expectantes por la llegada del nuevo presidente: The citizens were expectant for the arrival of the new president
• Los problemas están resueltos: The problems are resolved
• Durante el embarazo está permitido viajar por avión: During the pregnancy it is permitted to travel by plane
• El trabajo está hecho: The job is done
• La comida estaba recalentada: The food was reheated
• Las ventanas están rotas: The windows are broken
• La ciudad está destruida: The city is destroyed

You can also make a passive sentence using the word “se”. You use this type of passive sentence when it is not important who does the action and you are not going to name them. The verb is always in the 3rd person (he/she/it, they). We use this type of sentence, for example, in signs and advertisements.

Let´s see some examples of “se” being used in passive sentences:

• Se vende casa
• Se alquilan coches
• Se necesitan camareros para restaurante español.
• Se busca trabajo de secretaria por las mañanas.

There is lots of information in this lesson and lots to get your head around. If this is your first encounter with The Passive Voice you may be feeling a little overwhelmed right now, but don’t worry, take things slowly and give yourself lots of time to let things sink in little by little.

Make sure you are clear, above all, on what exactly is a passive and an active sentence and then write out lots of your own example sentences. Also, try to find time to watch this lesson various times. With repetition you will find that my example sentences start to stick in your head and hopefully my style of pronunciation will start to stick as well.

Have a great day!

¡Hasta luego!

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About the Author: Laura & Adam

Laura & Adam have been blogging and creating online Spanish courses for Transparent Language since 2010. Laura is from Bilbao in northern Spain and Adam is from Devon in the south of England. They lived together in Spain for over 10 years, where their 2 daughters were born, and now they live in Scotland. Both Laura & Adam qualified as foreign language teachers in 2004 and since have been teaching Spanish in Spain, the UK, and online.