The passive voice in Spanish

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The passive voice

The passive voice is usually constructed with the verb ser (to be) + past participle + por (by)

Las tapas son comidas por Nacho.

The tapas are eaten by Nacho.

Las tapas fueron hechas por Carolina.

The tapas were made by Carolina.

Ser is conjugated in the same tense as the verb used in the active voice sentence.

El gato comi贸 un rat贸n (comi贸 = pret茅rito indefinido) 鈫 Un rat贸n fue comido por el gato (fue = pret茅rito indefinido).

The cat ate a mouse (past tense) 鈫 A mouse was eaten by the cat (past tense).

El gato ha comido un rat贸n (ha comido = pret茅rito perfecto) 鈫 Un rat贸n ha sido comido por el gato (ha sido = pret茅rito perfecto).

The cat has eaten a mouse (present perfect tense) 鈫 A mouse has been eaten by the cat (present perfect tense).

The past participle agrees with the subject in terms of gender (鈾傗檧) and number (singular, plural).

El cuadro fue pintado por Vel谩zquez.

The picture was painted by Vel谩zquez.

La bufanda ser谩 tejida a mano.

The scarf will be hand knitted.


  • In the passive voice, as in English, the subject does not perform the action, but receives the action expressed by the verb.

Alfonso Cuar贸n dirigi贸 la pel铆cula. 鈫 La pel铆cula fue dirigida por Alfonso Cuar贸n (enfatizamos en la pel铆cula, que recibe la acci贸n de Alfonso Cuar贸n).

Alfonso Cuar贸n directed the movieThe movie was directed by Alfonso Cuar贸n (we鈥檙e emphasizing la pel铆cula (the movie), which receives the action).

  • In the passive voice, we don't always know (or care) who carries out the action.

Todos los vuelos fueron cancelados (no sabemos por qui茅n).

All flights were cancelled (we don鈥檛 know who cancelled them).

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