The passive voice

The passive voice is used to say what is done to someone or something. For example:

  • Mi colegio fue construido en los años noventa (My school was built in the nineties).
  • El pueblo fue destruido en la guerra (The village was destroyed in the war).
  • El coche es conducido por mi padre (The car is driven by my father).

It is formed with the correct form of ser + past participle. The past participle effectively works like an adjective when it is used in the passive voice so it needs to agree with what it is describing, eg la pizza fue comida inmediatamente (the pizza was eaten immediately).

Question

Translate these sentences into English.

  1. La casa fue decorada recientemente.
  2. El gato ha sido encontrado en la calle.
  3. Muchos niños son afectados por la pobreza.
  4. Mi pasaporte y mi maleta fueron robados.
  1. The house was decorated recently.
  2. The cat has been found in the street.
  3. Many children are affected by poverty.
  4. My passport and suitcase were stolen.
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The passive is not very common in Spanish - it is more usual to avoid the passive by using the pronoun se and the third person singular (él/ella/ustedes) or plural (ellos/ellas/ustedes) forms of the verb. For example:
  • Se recicla el papel (paper is recycled) instead of el papel es reciclado.
  • Se venden bocadillos en el café (sandwiches are sold in the café) instead of los bocadillos son vendidos en el café.
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