Created using FigmaCreated using FigmaCreated using FigmaCreated using Figma

Forming passive sentences with se

The passive voice (for example "The house was sold") is not widely used in Spanish the way it is in English, but there is a way to make a passive sentence using the pronoun se. This structure is possible with transitive verbs, i.e verbs that have a direct object. The invariable se is placed in front of the verb.

Have a look and listen to these examples:

Se vende apartamento de lujo en la playa.
A luxurious apartment is for sale at the beach.

Se venden apartamentos de lujo en la playa.
Luxurious apartments are for sale at the beach.

Notice that if the direct object is a singular noun (apartamento), the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person singular (vende), while with a plural direct object (apartamentos) the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person plural (venden).

Here are some other examples using different tenses:

Se buscan secretarias con experiencia.
Experienced secretaries are needed.

Se necesita albañil.
A builder is required.

Aquí se vende el periódico barato.
Here the newspaper is sold cheaply.

El otro día se publicaron unas noticias desagradables.
The other day some unpleasant news was made public.

Mis cortinas nuevas se han hecho en dos días.
My new curtains were made in two days.

Las negociaciones se harán pronto.
The negociations will be completed soon.

One of the contexts where we find this "se" structure is on instructions (i.e explaining how to make something step by step). In these cases there are different ways to translate them into English; the most common translations are: "You [do something]", "One [does something", or "Something is [done]". 

Have a look at the following examples:

Primero, se cortan las verduras y después se ponen en el horno.
First, [you] cut the vegetables and then [you] put them in the oven.

Se unen estos dos extremos para formar un triángulo.
These two corners are joined to form a triangle.

Para preparar un buen gazpacho, se añade mucho aceite de oliva.
To make a good "gazpacho" one adds [needs to add] a lot of olive oil.

 

Don't confuse this use of se with the se used for general statements like "One does.../People do/ Something is done. For this other specific use see Expressing instructions and general statements with the impersonal se = one.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Se buscan secretarias con experiencia.
Experienced secretaries are needed.


Se unen estos dos extremos para formar un triángulo.
These two corners are joined to form a triangle.


Se vende apartamento de lujo en la playa.
A luxurious apartment is for sale at the beach.


Primero, se cortan las verduras y después se ponen en el horno.
First, [you] cut the vegetables and then [you] put them in the oven.


Las negociaciones se harán pronto.
The negociations will be completed soon.


El otro día se publicaron unas noticias desagradables.
The other day some unpleasant news was made public.


Se venden apartamentos de lujo en la playa.
Luxurious apartments are for sale at the beach.


Se necesita albañil.
A builder is required.


Aquí se vende el periódico barato.
Here the newspaper is sold cheaply.


Para preparar un buen gazpacho, se añade mucho aceite de oliva.
To make a good "gazpacho" one adds [needs to add] a lot of olive oil.


Mis cortinas nuevas se han hecho en dos días.
My new curtains were made in two days.


Q&A

allison

Kwiziq community member

21 April 2018

2 replies

In this example, there is no clear agent. Who is eating the paella? It could be la gente (3rd sing.) or las personas(3rd pl). Both answers are correct

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

22 April 2018

22/04/18

Hi Alison


I am not sure what you mean. Could you clarify a bit more please?


The answer for this question, "In Spain people eat paella" is "En España se come paella". This lesson is about forming a passive sentence using "se".


Saludos


Inma

allison

Kwiziq community member

22 April 2018

22/04/18

If we want to say "In Spain, paella is eaten" , then "se come" would be the obvious answer. When the sentence is "In Spain, people eat paella" there is a nominative word here. People. There is another translation for the third person plural in this case, no? Or would you have to explicitly say "En España las personas comen paella?" I'm sure I have seen uses of "se comen" without an explicitly named plural subject...


Find your Spanish level for FREE

Test your Spanish to the CEFR standard

find your Spanish level

Share the love!

How has your day been?