Spanish Passive Voice – Forming and Using the Passive Voice

Wellcome to our lesson about the Spanish Passive Voice.

In Spanish, we can express many actions either in Active Voice or in Passive Voice. The difference is:

  • In Active Voice, the subject does the action of the verb. For example, in English: “Egyptians built the pyramids”. (Egyptians is the subject)
  • In Passive Voice, 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 possible ways of forming the Passive Voice in Spanish. We will learn both in this grammar lesson, providing example sentences.

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

1. Passive Voice with verb “ser”

The formula to form the Passive Voice with verb “ser” consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is the verb “ser”.
  • 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 read some example sentences, and for the first couple of them we will offer an analysis of their passive voice:

Examples with verb “ser”

La canción es cantada.
The song is sung.

Analysis: The verb “ser” has been conjugated 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 por la compañía.
The buildings are built by the company.

Analysis: The verb “ser” has been conjugated 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 noun of “los edificios”: masculine plural.

The Passive Voice with verb “ser” is the right one to use if we also want to include the doer of the action, introduced by the preposition “por”, as we have done in this last sentence.


More examples with verb “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. (Future Tense)

El árbol fue cortado.
The tree was cut down. (Preterite Tense)

2. Passive Voice with particle “se”

The formula to form the Passive Voice with particle “se” also consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is always the particle “se”, without any variation.
  • The second word is the main verb.

Examples with particle “se”

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 particle “se”:

Esto se hace así.
This is done this way.

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

El secreto se olvidó.
The secret was forgotten. (Preterite Tense)

3. Practice the Spanish Passive Voice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz about the Spanish Passive Voice!:

Exercises

Do the following two exercises and find the solutions below:

A) Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using the Passive Voice with verb “ser”, in Present Tense:

Estas camisetas _____ _____1.(diseñar) en Italia y _____ _____ 2.(fabricar) en China. Luego _____ _____ 3. (exportar) a Estados Unidos y _____ _____ 4. (comprar) por consumidores americanos.


B) Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using the Passive Voice with particle “se”, in Present Tense:

En mi colegio, los exámenes _____ _____ 5. (hacer) cada tres meses. Además, cada mes _____ _____ 6. (exponer) un trabajo sobre un tema diferente. Las notas finales ______ _____ 7. (recibir) en junio.

Solutions to Exercise A) 1 = son diseñadas, 2 = son fabricadas, 3 = son exportadas, 4 = son compradas

Solutions to Exercise B) 5 = se hacen, 6 = se expone, 7 = se reciben