Passive Voice

Voz pasiva
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Voz pasiva

As seen in this sentence, the passive voice is used to indicate that something is being done to a subject by an agent. It’s passive because the subject is being acted upon, rather than acting as in the active voice. There are two reasons you might use it.

1. Focus on performer

By using the passive voice, you can focus on who or what is performing the action (the agent) with the preposition por.

Por ejemplo…

La gallina es seguida por sus polluelos.   The chicken is followed by her chicks.
Este libro fue escrito por un niño.   This book was written by a child.

2. Ignore performer

Alternatively, you can focus on an action without identifying the performer, because you either don’t know or don’t care who it is.

Este libro fue escrito en 1927.   This book was written in 1927.
   instead of    
Alguien escribió este libro.   Someone wrote this book.

 Avoiding the passive voice

La voz pasiva is rather formal and is much less common in spoken Spanish than spoken English. In Spanish, the passive tends to be reserved for writing, such as newspapers and literature, and it’s used mainly when there is a named agent, as in the Focus on performer section, above. But even when you want to focus on an action without identifying the performer, there are several alternatives to la voz pasiva:

Passive voice        
     La verdad es sabida.   El libro es leído pronto.   Eso no es dicho.
Passive reflexive        
     Se sabe la verdad.   Se lee pronto el libro.   No se dice.
Ellos conjugation        
     Saben la verdad.   Leen pronto el libro.   No dicen eso.
La gente        
     La gente sabe la verdad.   La gente lee pronto el libro.   La gente no dice eso.
Todo el mundo / Nadie        
     Todo el mundo sabe la verdad.   Todo el mundo lee pronto el libro.   Nadie dice eso.

 Related lessons

Learn French En français

Learn Italian In italiano

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Spanish passive voice

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