In Spanish, the passive voice helps us emphasize the subject or object of a sentence.
El amor en los tiempos del cólera fue escrita por Gabriel García Márquez.
Love in the Time of Cholera was written by Gabriel García Márquez.
Passive Voice in Spanish - Usage
Rule 1. The passive voice in Spanish tends to be used more in written language than spoken. It has two main functions.
1. It can be used to emphasize who performed the action:
La noche estrellada fue pintada por Vincent Van Gogh.
The Starry Night was painted by Vincent Van Gogh.
In the example above, it is very important to signify the creator of this important painting.
2. It can also be used when the person who performed the action is unknown or irrelevant.
Su paquete será entregado más tarde hoy.
Your package will be delivered later today.
In this example, who will deliver the package is not included, because it is probably unknown or because the focus is more on the package.
Phrases to Use with the Passive Voice
To use the passive voice, you need the verb ser and the participle form to use as an adjective. The verb ser and the adjective must agree with the object. Below, we will show you how you can use the passive voice to talk about the present, past, and future, with three very easy and useful constructions.
To Talk About the Present
Rule 2. When the object of the sentence is more important than who is performing the action, use the following construction.
object + es/son + participle
Estas prendas son hechas a mano.
These garments are handmade.
Rule 3. On the other hand, if it is important to mention who performs the action, simply add 'por + subject'.
object + es/son + participle + por + subject
Esta película es dirigida por un director Colombiano.
This film is directed by a Colombian director.
To Talk About the Past
Rule 4. When the object of the sentence is very important, use the following construction. If it is important to mention who performs the action, remember to add 'por + subject.'
object + fue/fueron + participle + (por + subject)
¡Mi carro fue robado ayer!
My car was stolen yesterday!
To Talk About the Future
Rule 5. Lastly, use the following construction to talk about the future. Now, you know that if the who performs the action is not relevant, you can omit it.
object + será/serán + participle + (por + subject)
Su paquete será entregado hoy por Fedex.
Your package will be delivered today by Fedex.
What About the Other Tenses?
Rule 6. You can conjugate the verb ser in any of its tenses and leave the rest of the construction without modification. For example, when talking about the past, perhaps the preterite is not the best tense to express what you want to say, but the present perfect.
Los testimonios han sido recogidos por la policía.
The testimonies have been collected by the police.
As you can see, using the passive voice is very easy, especially if you learn it through chunks rather than thinking about conjugations. Just remember that the verb ser and the adjective must always agree in number and gender (respectively) with the object being spoken about.
Toda mi casa ___ por mi abuelo.