Spanish Passive Voice

Welcome to our grammar lesson about the Spanish Passive Voice (“Voz Pasiva”).

Sentences expressed in Passive Voice are those where the subject receives (not does) the action of the verb. For example: “The pyramids were built by Egyptians”. (The pyramids are the subject)

There are 2 ways of forming the Passive Voice in Spanish. We will learn both ways in this lesson, with example sentences.

Two sentences in Spanish Passive Voice
Two sentences in Passive Voice with the same meaning

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Passive voice with the verb “ser”

The formula for the passive voice with the verb “ser” consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is the verb “ser”, conjugated in whatever tense we need.
  • The second word is the Past Participle of the main verb. We need to match the Past Participle’s ending to the gender and number of the subject. (Click here to review the Past Participle)


Let’s analyze some example sentences:

La canción es cantada.
The song is sung.

Analysis: We have conjugated “ser” in Present Tense: “es”. Then, we have adapted the Past Participle of the verb “cantar” (“cantado”) to “cantada, so that it matches the gender and number of “la canción”: feminine singular.


Los edificios son construidos.
The buildings are built.

Analysis: We have conjugated “ser” in Present Tense: “son”. Then, we have adapted the Past Participle of the verb “construir” (“construido”) to “construidos, so that it matches the gender and number of “los edificios”: masculine plural.


Note:

When we form the Passive Voice with “ser”, we have the option to also mention the doer of the action later in the sentence, introduced by “por”:

Example:
Los edificios son construidos por la compañía.
The buildings are built by the company.


More examples with “ser”:

El libro es leído por los alumnos.
The book is read by the students.

Las revistas serán publicadas por la editorial.
The magazines will be published by the publishing house. (“serán” is Future Tense of “ser”)

El árbol fue cortado.
The tree was cut down. (“fue” is Preterite Tense of “ser”)

Passive voice with the particle “se”

The formula for the passive voice with the particle “se” also consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is always “se”, without any variation.
  • The second word is the main verb, conjugated in whatever tense we need.


Let’s analyze some example sentences:

La canción se canta.
The song is sung.

Analysis: we have conjugated the verb “cantar” in Present Tense for the 3rd person singular, because “la canción” is singular.


Los edificios se construyen.
The buildings are built.

Analysis: We have conjugated the verb “construir” in Present Tense for the 3rd person plural, because “los edificios” is plural.


More examples with “se”:

Esto se hace así.
This is done this way.

Las cartas se enviaban todos los días.
The letters were sent every day. (“enviaban” is Imperfect Tense)

La información se olvidó.
The information was forgotten. (“olvidó” is Preterite Tense)

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz about the Spanish passive voice:


Exercise 1

Fill the gaps using the passive voice with the verb “ser”:

Las camisas __ ___ 1.(diseñar) en Italia.
The shirts are designed in Italy.

Este ordenador __ ___ 2.(fabricar) en China.
This computer is made in China.

Los libros __ ___ 3.(escribir) por autores importantes.
The books are written by important authors.

El dinero __ ___ 4.(gastar) por los clientes.
The money is spent by the customers.

Solutions:
1) son diseñadas
2) es fabricado
3) son escritos
4) es gastado


Exercise 2


Fill the gaps using the passive voice with the particle “se”:

En mi colegio, los exámenes __ ___ 1.(hacer) cada tres meses.
At my school, exams are held every three months.

La nota final __ ___ 2.(recibir) en junio.
The final grade is received in June.

Los libros __ ___ 3.(prestar) en la biblioteca.
Books are checked out in the library.

Las bebidas __ ___ 4.(vender) en la cafetería.
Drinks are sold in the cafeteria.

Solutions:
1) se hacen
2) se recibe
3) se prestan
4) se venden