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How to Learn Spanish Verb Voice

Table of contents

Spot the difference between these two sentences:

El jefe firmará el contrato.

The boss will sign the contract.

 

El contrato será firmado por el jefe.

The contract will be signed by the boss.

Both of the sentences are in the future tense. Both use the indicative mood. So what's the difference?

Voice.

Verb voice dictates whether the subject of the sentence performs the action, or it undergoes the action. Remember, the subject of the sentence refers to what or whom the sentence is about, while the object of the sentence refers to the noun or pronoun usually being affected by the subject.

But don't worry – there are only two main voices you need to learn! And chances are you already know the rules for the first one.

Keep reading to dive into Spanish verb voice – the active and the passive – and learn how to use both.

Active Voice in Spanish

When we study a language, we start by studying the active voice. In this voice, the subject performs the verb, such as:

El jefe firmará el contrato.

The boss will sign the contract.

This voice is the most common in both spoken and written Spanish (English too!). But without learning the passive voice, your comprehension can't reach 100%.

Passive Voice in Spanish

Note that in the passive voice the grammatical subject and the object swap roles: what had been the object of the sentence in the active voice becomes the subject, and what had been the object becomes the subject.

Look at our opening example again:

El jefe firmará el contrato.

The boss will sign the contract.

 

El contrato será firmado por el jefe.

The contract will be signed by the boss.

We can see how, in the second sentence, "el contrato" (the contract), which was the direct object in the active sentence, has turned into the subject, a.k.a "el sujeto paciente" in the passive voice.

Removing the Agent

One way you can spot the passive voice is that it lets you remove "el jefe" (the boss). In the active voice, the boss is the subject. But in the passive voice, it becomes the agent, in Spanish "el sujeto agente", and you can cut it out altogether.

El contrato será firmado.

The contract will be signed.

Therefore, the passive voice is very handy when we don't know who or what the agent is (who will sign the contract).

Learn and practise with our lessons about the passive:

Reflexive Passive Voice

In Spanish, there is an extra way of using the passive voice without the agent. If the subject is not mentioned, and the verb is transitive, you can use the reflexive passive voice. In Spanish, this is called la pasiva refleja and it is a more relaxed passive.

To do so, add the invariable word "se" before the 3rd person singular or plural conjugation of the verb.

El contrato se firmó.

The contract was signed.

 

Los contratos se firmaron.

The contracts were signed.

Learn and practise with our lessons about the passive se:

Spanish Verb Voice Practice

Whether you're piecing together sentences in the exercises or immersing yourself in the readings, you'll be exploring the captivating depths of active, passive, and reflexive voices in Spanish. Ready to challenge your knowledge with our exercises? 

Take Your Spanish to the Next Level!



When we speak, we tend to use the active voice. This is even truer in Spanish!

But if you can master the rules for both voices, your comprehension of written and spoken Spanish will jump forward.

Give yourself the boost you need with the Spanish verb voice exercises in this article. Then let Kwizbot check your progress and find the areas you need to work on.

Access these exercises, personalised kwizzes, and more resources by creating a FREE Kwiziq account today!

 

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