Passive 'se' vs Impersonal 3rd person plural

GraemeB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Passive 'se' vs Impersonal 3rd person plural

I always equate 'impersonal' with 'passive', as they seem to express the same thing. And, I've always used 'se' to express passive. So using third person is new to me, and I'm confused by this lesson and a question Kwiziq asked me to translate: 

'They took ages to build the hospital'

 among the choices were:

Han tardado mucho en construir el hospital (correct)

Se han tardado mucho en construir el hospital (incorrect)

Can someone explain why the second one is wrong.

Here are two other similar examples I found on Kwiziq that relate to this:

Tardaron mucho en construír los apartamentos = It took a long time to build the apartments.

Se tardó mucho en construir este hospital = It took (them, whoever built it) a long time to build this hospital.


Asked 1 month ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Graeme,

The "se" passive sentences can take the 3rd person singular or 3rd person plural:

In singular:

El otro día se publicó una noticia desagradable.

The other day an unpleasant news was made public.

In plural:

El otro día se publicaron  unas noticias desagradables.

The other day some unpleasant news was made public.

The verb is in 3rd person singular when the passive subject is singular (una noticia - se publicó); the verb is in 3rd person plural when the passive subject is plural (unas noticias - se publicaron)

We can use the passive se with transitive verbs, e.g. publicar (publicar algo).

Una noticia desagradable fue publicada/se publicó.

Unas noticias desagradables fueron publicadas/se publicaron.

The impersonal se is used with intransitive verbs (no direct objects) and it is always formed with se + 3rd person singular:

Aquí en el sur se vive muy bien.

Vivir is an intransitive verb, we cannot say "vivir algo/cosas"

We can't turn this into a passive sentence, you cannot say:

Here in the south it is lived very well. (it doesn't make sense) 

So this is not a passive sentence, it is an impersonal sentence using "se".

Other impersonal sentences using se of this type could be:

En este colchón se duerme de maravilla. (One sleeps beautifully on this mattress.)

En mi oficina de antes se trabajaba mejor. (In my previous office one could work better)

Again, you cannot turn these two sentences into a passive one. They are intransitive verbs.

I hope this clarified it.

Inma

Passive 'se' vs Impersonal 3rd person plural

I always equate 'impersonal' with 'passive', as they seem to express the same thing. And, I've always used 'se' to express passive. So using third person is new to me, and I'm confused by this lesson and a question Kwiziq asked me to translate: 

'They took ages to build the hospital'

 among the choices were:

Han tardado mucho en construir el hospital (correct)

Se han tardado mucho en construir el hospital (incorrect)

Can someone explain why the second one is wrong.

Here are two other similar examples I found on Kwiziq that relate to this:

Tardaron mucho en construír los apartamentos = It took a long time to build the apartments.

Se tardó mucho en construir este hospital = It took (them, whoever built it) a long time to build this hospital.


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