Forming the passive voice with ser + participle (Compound tenses - passive voice)

In English, an active sentence is turned into a passive one (also known as the passive voice) as follows:

The cat eats the mouse. → The mouse is eaten by the cat.
The cat has eaten the mouse. → The mouse has been eaten by the cat.

The passive voice can be used both in simple tenses, i.e I go, I went, I will go, and compound tenses, i.e I have gone, I had gone.

To learn how to form the passive with simple tenses see Forming the passive voice with ser + participle (+ por) (passive - simple tenses).

Take a look at passive sentences in Spanish, conjugated in compound tenses:

Los platos han sido lavados. 
The dishes have been washed.

Nosotros hemos sido condenados por la Corte a 20 años de cárcel.
We have been sentenced by the court to 20 years in prison.

Las manzanas habían sido horneadas.
The apples had been roasted.

Los candidatos habrán sido elegidos por la tarde.
The candidates will have been chosen in the evening.

As you can see, the passive voice is formed by verb ser conjugated in a compound tense and a participle.

Note that the past participle agrees with the subject of the auxiliary ser:

platos → lavados

nosotros → condenados

manzanas → horneadas

candidatos → elegidos

In order to turn a sentence from active to passive voice, the tense of the auxiliary ser must be the same as the tense of the main verb of the active sentence. For example:

El cliente ha rellenado el documento. → El documento ha sido rellenado por el cliente. (present perfect tense)

El cliente había rellenado el documento. → El documento había sido rellenado por el cliente. (pluperfect tense)

El cliente habrá rellenado el documento. → El documento habrá sido rellenado por el cliente. (perfect future tense)

El cliente habría rellenado el documento. → El documento habría sido rellenado por el cliente. (perfect conditional tense)

Notice that, just like in English, the pattern is as follows:

  • The object becomes the subject.
  • We use the auxiliary verb ser (not estar) in one of the compound tenses, followed by the past participle of the verb.
  • We use the preposition por to introduce the complement.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Los candidatos habrán sido elegidos por la tarde.
The candidates will have been chosen in the evening.


Los platos han sido lavados. 
The dishes have been washed.


Las manzanas habían sido horneadas.
The apples had been roasted.


Nosotros hemos sido condenados por la Corte a 20 años de cárcel.
We have been sentenced by the court to 20 years in prison.


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 3 answers

la voz pasiva versus la voz activa

Asked 7 months ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hi Donald

What is your doubt exactly?

Inma

la voz pasiva versus la voz activa

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KA2

Why was this sentence considered wrong?

El problema habría sido resuelto en dos minutos por mí.

The correct answer was "…por mí en dos minutos."

Thanks. K

Asked 8 months ago
Hola K, quizás sea mejor poner 'por mí' al lado del participio, "resolved by me".  A lo mejor se puede escribirlo de otra (su) manera, y no es incorrecto, pero tiene un énfasis diferente "resolved in two minutes... oh by the way, it was by me".  Lo adivino!  Un saludo, Robin. 
KA2

Hi Robin,

Thanks, that’s helpful. 

I guess that my concern is that, at times,  answers are marked incorrect for things that are not related to the lesson or the question. 

K

Why was this sentence considered wrong?

El problema habría sido resuelto en dos minutos por mí.

The correct answer was "…por mí en dos minutos."

Thanks. K

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