Active vs. Passive Voice

Knowing the difference between active and passive voice makes a big difference in how things are phrased. The passive voice is used much more often in Spanish than English.

Active Voice

An agent (the doer of the sentence) is the subject of the verb and does something. There may or may not be an object (the thing done or person done to.)

Emilio escribe un libro en español.
Emilio is writing a book in Spanish.
Yo hago un pastel con miel.
I am making a cake with honey.
Mi madre cocinó la pizza en el horno.
My mom cooked the pizza in the oven.
Los ingleses establecieron las colonias hace 200 años.
The English established the colonies 200 years ago.

Passive Voice

The passive voice indicates what happened to the object where the object is acted upon by an outside agent, which can be hidden or highlighted depending on the situation. You will only use transitive verbs (verbs that require a direct object).

The following formulas are used to create the passive voice:

  • ser + past participle (+ por + agent)
  • se + 3rd person
El libro fue escrito en español por mi profesor.
The book was written in Spanish by my professor.
La pizza fue cocida en un horno por mi madre.
The pizza was cooked in an oven by my mother.
Se establecieron las colonias hace 200 años.
The colonies were established 200 years ago.
Se hizo este pastel con miel.
This cake was made with honey.

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