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Using Impersonal Expressions in Spanish

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(The following is an excerpt from “Ripping Apart the Spanish Language: Ser & Estar.)

Impersonal expressions are sentences or phrases that do not have a specific subject when speaking about something that is taking place. In Spanish, we use Ser for these types of expressions.


For example, in English we say:

It is easier to go to the store early in the morning.

In this sentence, the verb is “is” and the subject is “it”, but there is no specific subject that “it” refers to. Just “it”. What is “it”? It’s just a place holder in English, a pronoun for a non-existent subject, if you will. And in Spanish, we would say the sentence like this:

Es más fácil ir a la tienda por la mañana temprano.
It is easier to go to the store early in the morning.

In Spanish, it becomes clear what the subject is. The infinitive form of the verb is the subject.

The commonly used construction is simply:

Form of Ser + adjective + the infinitive

Here are some examples of impersonal expressions in Spanish:

Es bueno asistir a la iglesia.
It is good to attend church.

Sería malo pegar a otra persona mientras estés enojado.
It would be bad to hit another person while you are angry.

Es fácil cumplir con las reglas con tal de que seas una buena persona.
It is easy to follow the rules as long as you are a good person.

Va a ser difícil hacer tortillas como las de mi abuela. Sin embargo, lo voy a intentar.
It is going to be difficult to make tortillas like my grandma’s. Nevertheless, I will try.

Impersonal expressions are also seen with the Spanish subjunctive. The construction is different:

Form of Ser + adjective + the subjunctive form of the verb

Es lógico que se comporte así.
It is logical for him to behave like that.

Era imprescindible que lo hicieras como te dije.
It was essential that you did it like I told you.

We also see it with “if” sentences:

Será interesante si el candidato gana la presidencia.
It will be interesting if the candidate wins the presidency.

Sometimes we use a noun instead of an adjective:

Form of Ser + a noun + subjunctive

Es una lástima que ustedes lleguen tarde.
It is a shame that you guys are late.

Author: GiveMeFluency

Language learner, writer, blogger

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