Spanish Language Exercises

Passive II



Formation of the Passive with "Ser"

In the previous section we saw the main differences between active and passive sentences. One thing that all the examples have in common is the presence of the verb ser in the passive sentence.

Let's look again at how the active sentence becomes passive. Pass your cursor over the sentence.
Pay attention to the way the elements in the sentence change positions and acquire new forms:

 These are the basic rules for transforming an active sentence into a passive sentence with ser:

  • The subject of the active sentence becomes the agent of the passive sentence, formed with the preposition por the subject of the active sentence.
  • The object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive verb form.

    The passive verb is formed with the participle of the active verb. In addition to this, the participle (
    firmado) must agree in gender and number with the subject of the passive verb (tratado).  And in order to keep the tense correspondence, ser is conjugated in the tense used in the active sentence (preterit, imperfect, future, etc.). In our example, this tense is the present tense: firma in the active sentence and es in the passive sentence.


"Ser" + Participle vs. "Estar" + Participle

As indicated above, passive sentences are formed with ser. But sentences with estar + participle are also possible. This can create some confusion. The rule to remember is that if you want to form a passive sentence, you must use ser, not estar.

La nueva ley está mal redactada

In this sentence está does NOT function as a part of a passive form, and redactada is NOT a participle but an adjective modifying the subject of the subject La nueva ley. This sentence is, therefore, not a passive sentence, but the expression of a final or resulting condition using the verb "estar".

The following sentence, though, is a passive sentence with a passive verb (fue redactada) followed by its prepositional agent (por el partido gobernante):

La nueva ley fue mal redactada por el partido gobernante



Here are some more examples of active and passive sentences. Which one is active and which one is passive?:

1. El Presidente José María Aznar está preocupado por las presiones de los partidos nacionalistas.

Passive Active

2. El ministro ha sido acusado por el candidato del Partido Socialista.

Passive Active

3. España está preparada para ampliar la base militar americana de Rota.

Passive Active

4. El Príncipe Felipe fue recibido por autoridades jordanas en el aeropuerto en Amán.

Passive Active


More Practice

Now that you have seen the mechanics of the formation of the passive with ser, let's reinforce your knowledge with one more exercise.

In this instance, choose the translation that corresponds to the following Spanish sentences:

1. La bomba hirió a un policía.

The bomb was deactivated by an injured officer.
The bomb injured a police officer.

2. El informe del Presidente fue recibido con indiferencia por el Parlamento.

The President's report was received with indifference by the Parliament.
The President was indifferent to the report received by the Parliament.

3. Los candidatos hablaron de sus errores de campaña.

The candidates were asked about their campaign mistakes.
The candidates spoke about their campaign mistakes.

4. Los ciudadanos estaban expectantes por la llegada del nuevo presidente.

The citizens were expecting the new president's arrival.
The citizens had great expectations about the new president's arrival.


In the next section we will see additional ways for Spanish to express the passive.

Some Links about Spanish Politics


Introducction | Passive I | Passive II | Passive III | Passive IV
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