Capítulo 1: Los Procesos Comerciales

1.7.1: Gramática-se pasivo/se impersonal

There are 8 different uses of the pronoun “se” in Spanish.  Sometimes it may seem like Spanish speakers are just throwing “se” onto everything for no discernible reason.  Of course that is not what is happening at all but yes, the pronoun “se” is used a lot and sometimes it can be difficult to separate the various uses.  Relax, take a deep breath, and let’s look at the first use of “se” that we will cover in this textbook.


What is the passive voice?


Can you identify the passive voice in English?  Do you know why we use it in our speech or writing?


  1. The song was sung beautifully
  2. Elsa sang the song beautifully


Which is the passive voice?




In option 1, the song occupies the grammatical subject position.  This means that the verb is conjugated to the word “song”.  Does this mean nobody sang the song?  No, of course not.  This means that for some reasons we don’t want to or need to mention who sang the song.  The song is important in this sentence and the singer isn’t.


There are two ways of expressing the passive voice in Spanish.  The one we will learn about in this chapter is called the passive se.  It is used in both speaking and writing.  The other passive form, the passive voice with ser, is used almost exclusively in writing and will be covered in an upcoming chapter.

The same example sentence from above in Spanish is:  Se canta la canción


Examples from your reading:


Se utilizaron muchos métodos para tratar de erradicar la filoxera

Su parte norte también se conoce como la Región Monterrey

En California se cultivan más de un centenar de variedades de uva.


Se recoge información sobre el sector vitivinícola

Durante la campaña 2012/2013 se ha exportado vino por valor de 2.442,7 millones de €


las grandes superficies comerciales se instalaban sobre todo a las afueras de las ciudades

Hay varias razones por las cuales se prefiere comprar en los grandes supermercados en vez de en los ultramarinos de barrio

se invierten los papeles y ahora es la marca la que depende del supermercado

favoreciendo que los consumidores se distribuyan uniformemente en toda la zona

Actividad 1:

Pick three of the above real-world examples and translate the sentence into English using the passive voice.

Madrid Museo del Jamón – Wikimedia Commons – CC BY 3.0.


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