Spanish Passive Voice (present tense)


The passive voice (pasiva) emphasises an action or a condition. Who or what caused the action or condition is unimportant, unknown, or assumed to be general knowledge. Spanish has two ways of expressing passive sentences: the passive voice and the passive “se” (pasiva refleja) both of which are translated using the passive voice in English grammar.

Hitting a birthday pinata

When form phrases in Spanish, we can use the active voice, where the subject performs an action upon an object, like ‘A’ threw ‘B’. Or we can turn it around and use what we call the passive voice. 

The recipient of the action then becomes the subject. All that means is that the focus will be on B, and what happened to him/her/it. ‘B’ was thrown. If we want to, we can also add who did it: ‘B’ was thrown (by A). But that is the point of the passive, that the object becomes the primary focus in a sentence.

Let’s look at an example of someone getting arrested. We can avoid the passive voice by using the ‘se pasiva,’ (‘se detuvo a Raúl’), the impersonal third person plural construction (‘detuvieron a Raúl’), or by keeping it active (‘la policía detuvo a Raúl.).

Ser + past participle

When we can’t avoid it, we use the passive voice by conjugating the verb ‘ser’ and adding a past participle. Let’s look at some examples in various tenses.

El primer acto siempre es seguido por el segundo acto.The first act is always followed by the second act.
Millie fue encontrada en el restaurante.Millie was found in the restaurant.
Durante su enfermedad, el gato era examinado cada día por la veterinaria.During his illness, the cat was examined every day by the vet.
La obra será grabada.The performance will be recorded.
En aquel zoo, los animales serían maltratados.In that zoo, the animals would get mistreated.


Now let’s look at forming the verb ‘ser’ in more detail. We’re going to give you the conjugations for the present, preterite, imperfect, future, and conditional tenses. That way you’re ready for anything, although ‘ser’ + past participle isn’t actually used much with the present or imperfect!











Highlighted Author:

Zocalo Square and Mexico City Cathedral - Mexico City, Mexico
Smiling young african american businessman writing in diary and using laptop in creative office

Private Classes

Meet one or more times weekly with a dedicated Spanish instructor online at a pace and schedule that custom fits your busy life.

Group of cheerful young women studying together

Group Courses

Our 10 week group Spanish courses meet twice a week for 1-hour classes. Learn Spanish with other motivated students. Best option for Spanish CEFR certification.
Inspirational International Women's Day Quotes for 2023


Do you like to study on your own when it’s convenient for you? Buy helpful charts, vocabulary lists, and courses. 

Additional Topics

Aztec Temple at ruins of Tenochtitlan with the Dome of Metropolitan Cathedral - Mexico City, Mexico
Spanish Passive Voice (all tenses)

Spanish passive voice formation is pretty straightforward. All you need is a subject (which is the object in the active sentence), the verb “ser” followed by the past participle of the active verb. Subject + ser + past participle

Some would call them the social generation
Spanish Conditional Tense

The conditional is a structure that we use to express possibility or probability, wishes, excuses, and even suggestions or requests. It can also be used to talk about things we would do, if a certain action happens (ie. hypothetical situations).

attractive asian girl using virtual reality headset on street in evening, city of future concept
Spanish Future Tense

The Simple Future (Futuro simple), is used to describe actions that will happen in the future, without indicating a specific point in time.

Show More

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.