Today we will explain impersonal constructions in Spanish. So, if you want to improve your speaking skills, have a look at the blog of our Spanish school El Rincón del Tándem! And enjoy your reading 😉
Firstly, we call impersonal constructions in Spanish those phrase constructions that do not express the subject. That is, constructions where the subject that performs the action is omitted.
Secondly, we use impersonal constructions when:
– We believe that it is not worth mentioning the subject because:
>we do not know it
> it is too obvious to be expressed
– We want to make a general statement.
In some case, the subject of the phrase would be “everyone” or just “people”. Therefore, we speak in general terms.
So, let’s see how to structure impersonal constructions. Here below you will find the most commonly used constructions and some useful examples.
1. Impersonal constructions with HABER (to have)
Hay que respetar a la gente mayor
We must respect the elders
2. Impersonal constructions with SER/PARECER/ESTAR
Parece que mañana va a hacer mucho calor
It seems that tomorrow will be a very hot day
Está comprobado que los niños pasan demasiadas horas viendo la tele
It has been proven that children spend too many hours in front of the TV
3. Impersonal constructions with Weather Verbs
Llueve a cántaros
It rains cats and dogs
In all the above mentioned cases the verb takes the third person singular inflection. Besides, there is not subject so the pronoun “it” in the English translation does not express the subject.
4. Impersonal construction with SE
In this case, we use SE + verb in its third person singular. SE constructions use to express a general condition or situation.
Se vive muy bien en las ciudades costeras
People live well in coastal cities
5. Impersonal constructions with verb in third person plural form
Han hallado los restos de una momia egipcia
The remains of an Egyptian mummy have been found
Dicen que van a abrir un cinema nuevo
They say that a new cinema will be opened
In this last case, the construction can be replaced by the SE construction. The meaning of the sentence would be exactly the same.
6. Impersonal construction with TÚ
In this case, the verb takes the second person singular form but the real subject of the action is not the person we are speaking to. On the contrary, the verb expresses an impression or opinion of the speaker that is assumed to be general.
Furthermore, the impersonal construction with TÚ is also a linguistic resource that the speaker can use to engage the participation and receive the empathy of the person that he/she addresses.
Las pinturas de Chagall son maravillosas; las miras y te quedas sin habla
Chagall’s artworks are wonderful; you see them and you feel speechless
7. Impersonal construction with UNO/A
The intention of the speaker when using this construction is quite similar to the previous one. That is, the speaker tries to convey a personal feeling/message as it was universal. He/she also want to get the attention and empathy of the other person.
A estas preguntas, uno no sabe qué contestar
To these questions, nobody knows what to answer.
We hope this blog helped you use impersonal constructions, in order to make you sound like a native Spanish.
Finally, we are waiting for you at our school, where you can learn with fun with our cheap Spanish courses in Valencia.
Have a nice day!