Today in our blog we explain the topic of reflexive impersonal constructions.

Reflective impersonal constructions are constructions that contain a reflexive verb in the third person. These constructions are used when we do not want to identify the person who performs an action. That is, we use such verbs as “se vende”, “se buscan”, “se usan” etc. To illustrate the difference between personal constructions and impersonal constructions, let’s see some examples:

Personal construction, which identifies the person who performs an action.
Mi madre vende ropa = my mother sells clothes

Impersonal construction, which does not identify the person who performs an action.
Se vende ropa = Clothing is sold

Grammar structure

A standard grammatical structure is composed of two parts. The first is the subject: the person who performs an action. And the second is a person or an object affected by the action: Direct Complement (DC). For example:
Juan come tarta = Juan eats pie
Here “tarta” is DC which affects the action performed by Juan who is subject.

On the other hand, in reflexive impersonal constructions, the person who performs an action is not defended. But the object affected by this action can be DC or subject.

P.S. If you do not know what DC is, we recommend this post.


If the affected by an action is a person or an indeterminate thing, it agrees with the verb as the subject.
Se buscan camareros = Wanted waiters
Se vende coche = Car is sold


If the affected by an action is a determined person, it agrees with the verb as DC with the preposition a. In addition, the verb is used in a singular way.
¿Se ha avisado a los profesores? =Have the teachers been notified?
Se ha contratado a una nueva niñera, Pili = A new nanny has been hired, Pili

Special cases

Spanish verbs like “vivir”, “crecer”, “estar” etc, that do not need DC, in reflective impersonal constructions they are always used in a singular way.
En el campo se vive más tranquilo = In the countryside you live more calm
Con este sol se está muy bien en la terraza = With this sun you are very well on the terrace

On the other hand, we use reflexive impersonal constructs to generalize. That is, saying people, nobody, everyone, people etc.
En España se vive muy bien = In Spain you live very well
This phrase can replace such phrases as:
En España la gente vive muy bien = In Spain, people live very well
En España todos viven muy bien = In Spain, everyone lives very well

We hope this post has seemed useful to you and help you with your Spanish learning. And if you have more doubts, the classrooms of our Spanish school in Valencia await you!