Spanish Passive Voice

Spanish Grammar TipSpanish Passive Voice

La voz pasiva (the Spanish passive voice) is characterized by a variation in the order of the elements of the active voice sentence so as to highlight the receptor element of the action, i.e., the object. In fact, in the active voice there are: a subject which performs the action, the action itself expressed by a verb and an object, that is, the noun or noun phrase receiving the action performed by the subject.

ACTIVE VOICE
SUBJECTACTIONOBJECT
El niñocomióla manzana
The childatethe apple

 

Through the passive voice the former object of the sentence in the active voice is turned into a grammatical subject of a verb whose realization is carried out by a grammatical agent (former subject of the active voice) introduced by the preposition por.

PASSIVE VOICE
SUBJECT (former object)ACTIONAGENT
La manzanafue comidapor el niño
The applewas eatenby the child

 

As seen above, the tense of the verb in the active voice passes to the verb ser in the passive voice, while the past participle in the passive voice takes the same gender and number of the object in the active voice.

Let’s analyse in detail the example above:

El niño comió la manzana. → La manzana fue comida por el niño.

comió = 3rd person singular of the preterite tense of comer → 3rd person singular of the preterite tense of ser = fue

la manzana = feminine singular noun → past participle of comer in its feminine singular form = comida

Additionally, when yo (I) and (you) are the subjects of the active voice sentence, omitted or not, they are replaced by and ti, respectively, in the passive voice.

Here are some examples:

(Yo) vendo naranjas. → Las naranjas son vendidas por mí.

El profesor felicita el alumno. → El alumno es felicitado por el profesor.

La autora firmaba las novelas. → Las novelas eran firmadas por la autora.

Una empresa local construyó mi casa. → Mi casa fue construida por una impresa local.

Juan y Rosa vieron el eclipse. → El eclipse fue visto por Juan y Rosa.

Here is a list of the full conjugations of the verb ser in the main tenses to support your practice of the passive voice.

 

TensesFull conjugation (I, you, he/she/it, we, you lot, they)
PRESENTEsoy, eres, es, somos, sois, son
IMPERFECTOera, eras, era, éramos, erais, eran
PRETÉRITOfui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron
FUTUROserá, serás, será, seremos, seréis, serán
CONDICIONALsería, serías, sería, seríamos, seríais, serían
PRETÉRITO PERFECTOhe sido, has sido, ha sido, hemos sido, habéis sido, han sido
PLUSCUAMPERFECTOhabía sido, habías sido, había sido, habíamos sido, habíais sido, habían sido

Compound Tense

Needless to say, when the active voice verb is in a compound tense, in the passive voice ser is conjugated in the same tense. As with all other verbs, forms of ser in compound tenses are formed by conjugating haber followed by the past participle of ser, that is, sido. In addition, sido is then followed by the past participle of the verb from the active voice.

Let’s look at some examples:

Los turistas han visto una osa. → La osa ha sido vista por los turistas.

Goya había pintado los cuadros. → Los cuadros habían sido pintados por Goya.

Vosotros habéis escuchado las canciones. → Las canciones han sido escuchadas por vosotros.

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