se usa vs se usan

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Basenjigirl, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Basenjigirl Senior Member

    English, USA
    I saw the following in another Spanish-English language forum. The original writer wrote: "Se necesita usar al diccionario muchas veces para definir palabras enigmáticas que no se usa frecuentemente. Mejor que se lea los periódicos que usan palabras formales del mundo."

    Somebody else corrected this to "no se usan" and "se lean" and when I asked why she told me that usar and leer have to agree with the plural words palabras and periódicos. Isn't this incorrect? If the original writer wanted to refer to the impersonal "you" wouldn't it be "se usa" or "usan" for an impersonal "they" but not "se usan"??
  2. ringolar Senior Member

    Spanish-Spain. Gallego-Galicia (Spain)
    The corrections are right.
    In this case "se" is impersonal and the verb must agree with the object.

    "Se vende piso"
    "Se venden pisos"

    Hope it helps!
  3. Pitt Senior Member

    Ambas construcciones son posibles:

    SE impersonal:
    Se usa las palabras [c. directo].
    Se vende pisos [c. directo].

    Pasiva refleja:
    Se usan las palabras [sujeto].
    Se venden pisos [sujeto].

    Pero para cosas se prefiere la Pasiva refleja.

  4. apheiron Member

    Spanish of Peru
    you are right regarding the use of " se usa"; needs to be mention that the verb always goes in singular because it is impersonal, it means that someone is doing the action, we do not who, nor how many, so it goes in singular, ALWAYS, regardless the number of the object; for instance, I may say "se lee el diccionario" or "se lee muchos diccionarios". I hope it helps you. Just for the record, it is very common the confusion and the misuse as well.

  5. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Senior Member

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    The correction is right but the reason you were given is just too vague.

    The example uses both impersonal conjugation (se necesita) and reflexive-passive voice (se usan, se lean). The confusion is caused because all those verbs are transitive. Transitive verbs can form both constructions while intransitive verbs but won't form passive voices, only conjugations in active voice, just like the impersonal conjugation with "se".

    Passive-reflexive voice is [clearer if] used with inanimate passive subjects (palabras que no se usan; esa palabra no se usa; los periódicos se leerán; el periódico se lee con dificultad ). Of course, the verb conjugation must match the [passive] subject's number.

    Impersonal conjugation with "se" is preferred for animated direct objects (se ama a las personas) and when the direct object is an action (se necesita usar), among a few more cases.

    However, the bit Mejor que se lea los... might be an impersonal conjugation to blend with the one starting the previous sentence (Se necesita usar).

    Both constructions are translated into English as passive voices.

    I hope this helps a bit more ;)

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