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Forming the passive voice with ser + participle (+ por)

Look at this example of a passive sentence in English:

The computers were sold by the shop assistant.

  • the computers = the object acted on by the verb
  • by the shop assistant = the person performing the action

We use the Voz pasiva in these cases:

1. When we give more importance to the action than to the subject. In these cases the subject is not normally mentioned. For example:

El fuego será apagado muy pronto.
The fire will be extinguished very soon.

Los ladrones fueron arrestados.
The thieves were arrested.

2. If we want to emphasise the subject of the action using generally por + [agent]. For example:

Las ausencias de los estudiantes son anotadas por la secretaria en un registro.
Student absences are marked by the secretary in a register.

El señor López era muy valorado por todos los vecinos.
Mr López was very appreciated by all the neighbours.

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

El Quijote fue escrito por Miguel de Cervantes.
Don Quixote was written by Miguel de Cervantes.

Las pruebas serán analizadas por la policía.
The evidence will be analysed by the police.

Vosotros seríais escuchados por los trabajadores lo antes posible.
You would be listened to by the workers as soon as possible.

  • The conjugated verb in the passive voice is "ser" and can be conjugated in any tense.
  • The participle always agrees with the subject of the passive sentence in gender and number! 
The passive voice is much more common in English than in Spanish, which often uses Verbos pronominales (usually reflexive verbs) where English would use the passive voice. 

See also Voz pasiva

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Las ausencias de los estudiantes son anotadas por la secretaria en un registro.
Student absences are marked by the secretary in a register.


El Quijote fue escrito por Miguel de Cervantes.
Don Quixote was written by Miguel de Cervantes.


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


Los ladrones fueron arrestados.
The thieves were arrested.


Las pruebas serán analizadas por la policía.
The evidence will be analysed by the police.


El fuego será apagado muy pronto.
The fire will be extinguished very soon.


Vosotros seríais escuchados por los trabajadores lo antes posible.
You would be listened to by the workers as soon as possible.


El señor López era muy valorado por todos los vecinos.
Mr López was very appreciated by all the neighbours.


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