Impersonal sentences in Spanish are constructions used to express an action without saying specifically who executed it. Therefore, these expressions are quite useful if we want to emphasize any part of the sentence rather than the subject. Or you just want to omit that information because you are unaware of it or it’s detrimental for your shelf-interest. What kind of impersonal sentences in Spanish are there? Remember that you can always reserve a lesson on Spanishviaskype.com in order to learn Spanish grammar.
Semantic Impersonal Sentences in Spanish
What are semantic impersonal sentences? They are constructions that do have a grammatical subject or it is omitted but understood, although it’s not specific or definite. Semantics study the meanings of the units of languages. So, although this expressions have a grammatical subject, according to the meaning, they don’t. This is the best way if you need to talk in general or if you need to express an acceptable idea for everybody. The Spanish language has a verbal system that allows the speakers, through the verbal endings, to express actions without the need of showing the subject. This enriches our language because we can use the subjects depending on our intentions.
Among semantic impersonal sentences we can highlight the following ones:
Passive sentences with the pronoun SE
Grammaticaly, they are passive sentences, because they do have a patient subject, but we don’t really express the agent of the action. They need the pronoun se and the verb is actually in an active form, in the third singular or plural person. The pronoun se give the meaning of reflection on the sentence and turns it into a passive mode.
As we can see, un profesor and muchas fiestas are coordinated with the verbs necesita and celebran. This means that they are the grammatical subjects but not the semantical ones. In the first example we don’t really know who needs the teachers; in the second one, we understand that Spaniards, in general, celebrate the festivities.
Impersonal sentences using TÚ
This header might seem a contradiction because if we use the pronoun tú (it can be omitted) we are actually using the second person as a subject. Aren’t we? However, again, we are using a grammatical subject with a different semantical use. When we say tú we really mean ‘everybody’.
We are not addressing to a second person specifically in both examples. We are just giving advises to learn Spanish via Skype and get the Spanish citizenship. That information can apply for everybody who is interested in learning Spanish or getting the nationality. So, this is a good way to talk in general.
Impersonal sentences using UNO
Following the previous use with tú, we can use the indefinite pronoun uno, that is similar to the English ‘one’. The goal of using this impersonal sentence is expressing again that everybody is included as the subject. The difference with tú is that the verb must be in the third singular person.
Notice that even though the pronoun uno means clearly a single person, in both examples we don’t really mean that. All tourists can enjoy our gastronomy and all students need a good teacher to learn Spanish.
Eventual impersonal sentences
Finally, we’ll explain this kind of impersonal expressions in which we use a verb in the third plural person, but we don’t really know if the real subject is one person o more.
Obviously, we don’t actually know who is knocking the door in the first example; however, we used llaman (they are calling) in the plural form. The same explanation is good for the second sentence. They say that…, is a typical way to express gossips.
Grammatical impersonal sentences in Spanish
Grammatical impersonal sentences are constructions that are expressed without a grammatical subject. Unlike the first type, the grammatical ones don’t have neither a semantical nor a grammatical subject. The goal to be used is also different. Now, the intention of hidding the subject or expression the ignorance about it is not important. Actually, the verbs we are going to see don’t allow to use a subject for logical reasons. Let’s see some types.
If we talk about the weather and we use verbs like llover or nevar…, it’s not logical to think that there is an agent that causes those actions. That’s why they are always used in the third singular person and they have no subjects.
Of course, it makes no sense if we search for a subject. Who is able to rain or snow? More verbs like these are: tronar (to thunder), amanecer (to begin to get light), anochecer (to get dark), granizar (to hail), refrescar (to cool down).
One of the most surprising Spanish verbs for our students on Spanishviaskype.com is haber. In English and more languages, the verb to express the existence is quite normal. They work with subjects (There is a man / there are three men). Nevertheless, in Spanish is different. There are no subjects for the verb haber. What it’s the subject in English, it becomes the direct object in Spanish.
It’s clear that there is no subjects in the previous examples. Notice that muchas terminaciones and muchos conciertos, that they would be the subjects in English and other languages, are in plural but the verbs hay and hubo are in singular. Don’t forget the rule that says ‘the subject must be coordinated in person and number with the verb‘. They are actually direct objects.
Impersonal sentences with the pronoun SE
We’ve already seen a construction that uses the pronoun se in order to form impersonal sentences in Spanish; the passive sentences with se. However, these expressions actually have a grammatical subject. There another kind of sentences that has not a grammatical subject. They are also formed with the pronoun se and the verb in singular.
In both examples we can see the lack of a subject. The pronoun se transmits the ideo of impersonality and includes everybody as the semantic subject: everybody lives very well in Spain and everybody takes not too long to learn Spanish on Spanishviaskype.com.
Impersonal uses of certain verbs
Finally, there are verbs that in cetain contexts they are used as impersonal: they don’t have any grammatical subject. Some of them are: hacer, bastar, sobrar or ser.
In conclusion, the impersonal sentences in Spanish have a variety of forms and options for the speaker. We can play with them in order to omit non relevant information for us or just to express actions caused by a non known agent. If you need further information about this topic, don’t hesitate and reserve a free trial lesson via Skype with us.