Forming the passive with "estar" (pasiva de estado)

In Spanish there are different ways to construct the passive voice. The traditional way is to conjugate ser with the past participle of the main verb; but the most common way of using the passive in Spanish is to use the passive "se".

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La pasiva de estado (passive with estar)

There is another passive construction that is formed by conjugating the verb estar and the past participle of the main verb. This passive form is used when the focus is the final result of the process and not the process itself. Here are some examples:

Esa película estaba prohibida durante la dictadura.That film was banned during the dictatorship.

Me sorprende que todas las ventanas estén cerradas.I'm surprised that all windows are closed.

La nueva urbanización está construida encima de una colina.The new residential area is built on top of a hill.

By using estar the speaker puts the emphasis on the result of an action/process. For example, in the last example, the focus is on the final result of the initial process of "having built the residential area". 

If we were instead focused on the process, we would use the traditional passive construction using ser, for example:

La nueva urbanización es construida/está siendo construida/fue construida encima de una colina.

The passive construction of

conjugated verb estar + past participle of the main verb

emphasises the result, not the process.

 

It's important to note that when using the passive with estar, it's not usual to mention the agent: "por + agente" (by + agent)

La urbanización está construida encima de una colina por una empresa de construcción conocida.  (this is unusual)
The residential area is built on top of a hill by a known construction company.

Remember that when using the passive with estar, the past participle still needs to agree in gender and number with the passive subject:

  • La urbanización está construida.
  • Las ventanas están cerradas.
  • La película estaba prohibida.

 

 

 

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Examples and resources

Los grifos ya están arreglados.The taps are already fixed.
Estos patucos están hechos con mucho cariño porque son para mi nieto.These booties are made with a lot of love because they are for my grandson.
Lo siento, esa mesa está reservada.Sorry, that table is reserved.
La nueva urbanización está construida encima de una colina.The new residential area is built on top of a hill.
Me sorprende que todas las ventanas estén cerradas.I'm surprised that all windows are closed.
Esa película estaba prohibida durante la dictadura.That film was banned during the dictatorship.
Let me take a look at that...