Se habla español. Se habla inglés.

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by rambler, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. rambler Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida (hurricanes!)
    English Canada (blizzards!)
    I was reading about "Se and the Passive Voice" in my Spanish grammar book.

    The book says that there are two different ways to express the passive voice in Spanish:
    (1) by using a form of ser and a participle, or
    (2) by using se and a conjugated verb.

    An example of the first method:
    La fortaleza fue destruida.
    The fortress was destroyed.

    That first example was easy for me to understand. However, examples of the second method have got my head spinning:

    Se habla español en México.
    Spanish is spoken in Mexico.

    Se hablan inglés y francés en Canadá.
    English and French are spoken in Canada.

    Are these really the passive voice, or are they examples of the "impersonal subject"?
    One speaks Spanish in Mexico.
    They speak English and French in Canada.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. Aquical

    Aquical Senior Member

    México Spanish
  3. Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Whenever the conjugation of the verb agrees with the number of the subject of the passive voice (English and French), you can consider it as passive voice.
    In the case of the impersonal subject the verb always remains in third person singular. ("Se habla inglés y francés en Canadá").
  4. herbie Junior Member

    English - USA
    I was always under the impression that you could translate "se" phrases like those as either passive or impersonal.

    For example:
    Se hablan inglés y francés en Canadá =
    They speak...(like you said) OR
    English and French are spoken in Canada
  5. rambler Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida (hurricanes!)
    English Canada (blizzards!)
    My grammar book says that when the plural is used, the word "se" is dropped!
    Se me conoce aquí.
    Me conocen aquí.
  6. Barbara S. Senior Member

    The way it's usually explained is that the 3rd person "se" form is used instead of the passive voice in Spanish to express a passive in English.

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