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"Se habría abierto perfectamente."

Translation:It would have opened perfectly.

November 24, 2013



why "se" if this is not translated in the passive voice?


It's reflexive. Whatever the unstated subject is would have opened, meaning that it wouldn't have been opening something else, like a can opener opening a can perfectly, but that the subject itself would have opened, like a window or a door.


Reflexive means that the subject and direct object of a verb are the same. In general, things cannot open themselves. Your explanation is actually the definition of a passive verb!


There are no passive verbs, there's passive voice, when the subject of the sentence is the object of the action. I open a door - active. A door is opened - passive. A door opens - not passive. A door opens itself - unlikely. But in Spanish, as in many other languages, it can/must be reflexive. Cuando una puerta se cierra, otra se abre. You can say "la biblioteca abre a las ocho" because it implies it opens its doors. But "la puerta abre" sounds weird.


There are passive verbs in Latin actually, just saying. It doesn't sound weird at all, "La puerta se abre" is something we would use when we don't know who or don't want to be specific about who carried out the action, this is called middle voice, you could also say "La puerta abre" if you want to say that the door works properly, meaning that it is able to open, both of those would be translated the same way to English.


That was great explanation, thanks I reported the english translation


"It opened." is not passive voice, and it does not have an object, either.


Also to interested readers:

Yerrick made a couple points and then the post ended without a conclusion. Yerrick fails to explain anything about Spanish. The readers want to understand the Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise.

"It opened." ....This is an English sentence in quotes. This is an illustration.

"It opened itself." ....This is another English sentence in quotes. This is my second illustration.

(Edit: So far, this post is moving along slower than a turtle! But I am going to "switch gears" in a moment. As you continue to read, you will soon notice the higher quality of this post. On the other hand, if you fail to notice the high quality of this post, then I recommend you bookmark this web page so that you can come back to review this post when you are better prepared to understand.)

Regarding the topic of reflexive Spanish: A verb is used reflexively when the subject of the verb is also its object. The reflexive pronoun (in this case, "Se") is not always literally or explicitly translated into English (see my second illustration above) whenever this is not colloquial English.

Here is what a concluding statement looks like: The featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise is not an example of the passive voice. The featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise is an example of reflexive Spanish. ━━━━━━━━━━━━
Edited by adding everything that follows: In hindsight, I see that my conclusion (above) was partially wrong. (Thank you for the correction by alezzzix.) I concede that the featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise actually could be interpreted as an example of the passive voice ― depending on the context. I will elaborate shortly.

The subject of an English passive voice sentence construction is not considered to be the same as the object of the sentence. Instead we say the subject is a patient of the passive voice English sentence. This is the tricky part to wrap your mind around. An agent (or agents) is acting upon the patient (subject) of the English sentence in the passive voice. The agent(s) may or may not be specified in the sentence.

The first sentence below in italics is an example of the active voice. The second sentence in italics establishes some of the context: "It would have opened perfectly. Nothing could have been done to prevent the sinkhole from opening."


The second sentence below in italics is an example of the passive voice. The first sentence in italics establishes some of the context: "I should have used a corkscrew to open that bottle of wine. It would have opened perfectly."

By the way, I am not sure if the Spanish language officially has a middle voice. But the "Grammar Girl" columnist, Neal Whitman in this case, is telling us that Spanish does! Click on the following link. https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/middle-voice-sentences


I disagree. Depending on context the above sentence can be interpreted as middle voice or passive voice, this is true for many sentences containing the particle se.


Or a person to another.


Is there any real difference between "Lo/la habría abierto" and "se habría abierto"? Is "se" here just a non-gendered placeholder for "lo/la"? I looked for usage of "abir" vs. "abrirse" and everything pointed to passive voice, not reflexive.


'It would have been opened perfectly' not accepted.


(Because "have been" is different than "it would have opened perfectly." Different tenses which mean different things..)


What was wrong with "I would have opened up perfectly?" I dont know any grammar so subjunctive reflexive etc means nothing to me


The featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise is a conjugation in the third person singular. Therefore your answer in English needs to be in the third person singular.

The word, "...up...", is a called an adverbial particle. Your decision to add the particle, "up" was correct (but not required), when you translated the featured Spanish sentence into English.

First Person

Active Voice:
"I would have opened up perfectly."
Me habría abierto perfectamente.

This post illustrates reflexive spanish. The Spanish word, "Me", is a reflexive pronoun.


Se habrían estado abierto...


Will it have the same meaning as I would have opened it perfectly?


The featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise is a conjugation in the third person singular. Therefore your answer in English needs to be in the third person singular.

Your translation fails to translate the subject of the reflexive spanish sentence correctly. The subject of the reflexive Spanish sentence is best (arguably best) translated as it. You constructed an English sentence in which the word, it, is a direct object.


Why is it not lo habria


I searched for a reciprocal Duolingo exercise that is reciprocal to the exercise we are discussing here on this web page. I did not find one. I do not have an issue with this. No worries.

You posted a question. And your question is asking how to solve this Duolingo exercise in reverse (from English to Spanish). I am going to answer your question now.

Duolingo English sentence:
It would have opened perfectly.

The reason (why not) is because you inserted a direct object pronoun into your proposed Spanish translation from English. I assure you that the Duolingo English sentence does not have a direct object. The subject of the English sentence is the word, "it." "It" is what would have opened.

If you accept my assessment of the English sentence as the truth, then the only remaining part to address is the Spanish sentence that you created.

In order to understand why it is incorrect to translate from English into Spanish by inserting a direct object pronoun (lo) into your proposed Spanish translation, read this:


"Se" could also mean "one"


That is why I put "One would have opened perfectly." but it was marked as incorrect.


"Se" is a versatile "nominal element" (pronoun) that can be used in so many different ways. You are suggesting that the Duolingo exercise being discussed on this forum web page is demonstrating another way of using Se. You are describing "Impersonal Se". https://www.thoughtco.com/introducing-se-spanish-3079357

Passive se constructions and impersonal se constructions are so close in form and meaning that some textbooks treat the passive and impersonal forms as if they were the same instead of treating them as separate constructions. This Duolingo exercise (that we are all discussing) could feasibly be interpreted as you are suggesting. But even though I am conceding the potential to interpret the subject of the Duolingo Spanish sentence as indefinite (ie. impersonal), your interpretation is an unlikely interpretation.

The next link takes you to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) website. The topic on that web page is about helping everybody to not confuse passive se constructions with impersonal se constructions. The page is written in Spanish.


I always want to translate the reflexed pronouns like "they would have opened THEMSELVES, which makes sense literally to me. Why is that wrong?


I suspect that, in this instance, "se" is not being used reflexively, but as what is called a "substitute Passive". SpanishDict says "se" can be used to describe an action without expressing who does it. ie: se cerro la puerta = the door was closed.



This Duolingo Spanish sentence is reflexive Spanish. Nevertheless, reflexive Spanish sentences can still communicate in the passive voice even if they are reflexive. Some students have the wrong idea that a reflexive Spanish sentence cannot communicate in the passive voice.

The featured Spanish sentence of the Duolingo exercise has at least two interpretations because it can either be interpreted as a passive voice construction or an active voice construction that uses reflexive Spanish. Look for my post on this web page in reply to Yerrick.


Great question. I believe "itself" or "themselves" is implied in reflexive verbs, but I recollect a few sentences in which one of these words was required for a correct answer. Not sure though, because it's been a while since I've encountered one. Help from more advanced learners/native speakers?


Okay, your preference for practicing this method of translation isn't always automatically wrong. But it usually causes the English sentence to sound like it is poorly worded.

I am a native speaker of English. Herb13 is interested in knowing this.

Generally speaking, your literal translation of Spanish reflexive sentences would generally be literally correct. But when we translate reflexive Spanish sentences into English, the reflexive pronoun is not explicitly or literally translated into English in many cases because such a translation fails to create a colloquial English sentence.


"You would have opened perfectly."

It was accepted!

Rated X. :-P


I need some help here....If this is a lesson in the Subjunctive Conditional why are they NOT using the subjunctive conjugation of "haber" ? I am pretty new at all of this but I don't see any subjunctive conjugations only indicative. Hope someone answers my question before I forget why I asked it.....Thanks in advance....


This Duoling exercise is not a lesson in the subjunctive mood. The mood of the featured Spanish sentence is the conditional mood.

Furthermore this Duolingo exercise presents an example of the conditional perfect mood. While the perfect tenses can be used in Spanish for the past, present, and future in both the indicative and subjunctive moods, there is only one choice of tense in the conditional perfect mood. This partially explains why it makes no sense to refer to the conditional as a tense.



Finally someone who notices it! I think "se HUBIERA abierto perfectamente" should be the right answer, given the fact that ir also sounds more natural.


"I would have opened up perfectly."

Rejected. Why?


Because in that case it would have been me, not se



I agree with ripowell.

Active Voice:
"I would have opened up perfectly."
Me habría abierto perfectamente.

This post illustrates reflexive spanish. The Spanish word, "Me", is a reflexive pronoun.


What am I supposed to do now?

I have finished the entire course, but there is so much more I want to learn.

Besides, there's still that empty bonus skills slot open. Where do I get another bonus skill from?


Try taking the reverse Spanish course. I have and I'm learning so much more Spanish! Just SAY you speak Spanish and you want to learn English. New bonus skills appear from time to time...patience :)


Where is the Reserve Spanish Course?


By now, you will have saw that Duolingo recently added more to the tree, but since you wrote this question 10 months ago, you may be at a point now that it may be too simple for you. I hope you are doing well in your studies!


No lo puedo traducir como "It would have opened itself perfectly" ?


En inglés, los verbos reflexivos son mucho menos comunes. A veces los estudiantes cometen el error de traducir directamente desde su lengua materna y añadir un pronombre reflexivo en inglés cuando no es necesario.

Se pueden fallar a veces las traducciones palabra por palabra.
― Word for word translations can fail sometimes.


How do we know it is it and and not I,he or she



More than one interpretation of the Spanish sentence is possible. We don't have to translate into English by using "it" as the subject of the English sentence.

In order to understand the answer to your question in the context of this Duolingo exercise, you will need a basic understanding of reflexive Spanish. And you need to understand the difference between active voice and passive voice.

You can ensure that you understand reflexive Spanish by reading one or both of these two instructional articles:



Edit: (additional comments)
In the context of reflexive Spanish, it is important to remember that se is the reflexive pronoun only for the 3rd person (it, him, her, them) and grammatically for the usted (Ud.) forms.

It is an unlikely possibility that the Duolingo exercise could be translated as "He would have opened (himself up) perfectly." But this active voice interpretation would require a context that does not quickly come to (my) mind. And I would not make this active voice interpretation without the knowledge of such a context.

Second Edit: (additional comments)
After further consideration, I am now able to give an example of a context for the active voice interpretation that Chris913144 was asking about. I can now provide a more complete explanation about how the translation of this interpretation makes sense. This interpretation requires us to interpet the Spanish sentence in the active voice instead of the passive voice.

Active Voice

He would have opened up (his restaurant in the morning) perfectly.

In the example just above, I want you to imagine that his restaurant is what the restaurant owner is opening. On the other hand, the English sentence does not explicitly mention a direct object. This distinction is important. The restaurant is not a direct object in the sentence. The English sentence has no direct object.

The Spanish sentence is reflexive. Thus we should imagine a context in which the Spanish speaker is speaking about the owner of the restaurant as though the restaurant owner is a personification of his own restaurant. The restaurant and the owner are 'one and the same' in the mind of the speaker. Aside from this, in the same context, the restaurant owner might comment afterwards, "But now I am finally open for business."

[deactivated user]

    Is there any way to repeat a lesson. I am struggling with the grammar. And I just don't understand it I am having such a hard time I can't finish level five.



    I see how many crowns you have. More than me.


    Perhaps this unfortunate result (that you describe) was partially caused by the decision to test out of some of the levels or perhaps you tested out of certain skill sets? But what is done is done.

    Unless I am mistaken, it is my personal experience that the practice buttons might sometimes serve you and me the lessons that we probably don't need to work on. Fortunately you still have the option of working on the English from Spanish course (also known as the reverse tree).


    Phillip you are very perceptive. That is exactly what I did. I tested out of several levels. Now I find myself struggling. I will try the reverse tree and begin again. Thank you so much for your help and your kind words of understanding.


    "You would have opened it perfectly" ?



    Active Voice

    Correct is:
    ― You would have opened perfectly.
    ― You would have opened up perfectly.

    In the last example, "You" is the translation of one possible interpretation of the Duolingo Spanish sentence in the active voice instead of the passive voice. Your interpretation correctly chooses to interpret the Spanish sentence by inferring that the implied word, usted, is the active subject. Usted is (1) grammatically a Spanish third person subject pronoun and (2) functionally a second person subject pronoun.

    In the last example, "up" is an adverbial particle.

    This Duolingo exercise is much more complex than most Duolingo exercises are. I might suggest that you have a look at my two replies to Chris913144, who has written (at least) two posts. But because I cannot interview you first, it might be premature for me to try to point somebody in the right direction.


    One irritated spouse to another... "It would have opened perfectly, but you had to go and hit it with the hammer, didn't you?"


    Is "It would have been opened perfectly" incorrect? If so, how would that be translated?



    The difference between your English sentence and the Duolingo correct answer is one extra word. We show this additional word in bold font. The meaning of the sentence appears to change because of the additional word. Or does it? Hold this thought. We will come back to it.

    You simply added an additional past participle to the correct English sentence. Instead of one past participle in your English sentence, there are two past participles in your English sentence.

    Consequently, my translation from English into Spanish, receives a corresponding additional word: another past participle. Adding an extra past participle creates the passive voice. So reflexive Spanish is no longer needed as the means of expressing the passive voice.

    It would have been opened perfectly.
    Habría sido abierto perfectamente.


    According to an expert who uses the name, sotondolphin on the Stack Exchange web site, it is okay to use two past participles in the same clause of an English sentence. If you like, you can read the opinion of the expert, sotondolphin, by clicking on the web link:

    Are you still holding on to that thought that I asked you to hold on to? If you want to scroll up and read my reply to Yerrick, that post was where I explained that there are two possible interpretation categories for the Duolingo Spanish sentence. One of the two interpretation categories is passive voice. The second is active voice. The English sentence written by elizadeux is the correct translation of passive voice, without ambiguity; unlike the Duolingo English sentence, which is as ambiguous as the Spanish sentence unless contextual clues are available. If elizadeux's interpretation in the passive voice turns out to be the same as the Spanish speaker intended, then we can conclude that elizadeux made the right interpretation of an ambiguous Duolingo Spanish sentence.

    Duolingo English solution has two possible interpretation categories:
    It would have opened perfectly.

    In English, there is a difference in meaning between (active voice) "A sinkhole would have opened" versus (passive voice) "something would have been opened" (by an agent.)

    Imagine that you are initially planning to compose an English sentence in the active voice. But then you change your mind about the active voice. You decide to create the passive voice instead. By causing the object of a hypothetical sentence to become the subject of the sentence, you change the active voice sentence into the passive voice, which emphasizes the action rather than the person doing it. The passive voice emphasizes the opening rather than the agent who does the opening.


    I got this wrong twice. First time I used the passive voice one would have opened it perfectly. Wrong. Then I wrote It would have opened perfectly and that too was marked wrong, but that is the answer Duo gives.


    Okay... I get that Duo wants this sentence to be reflexive, not passive, but how would one translate this sentence into passive Spanish, if not like this?



    Look for my post on this web page in reply to Yerrick.

    I believe the Duolingo Spanish sentence can be interpreted as either an active voice sentence or a passive voice sentence. But it is not as important for students to understand the active voice interpretation as it is to understand the passive voice interpretation. At the very least, I recommend that students make whatever efforts might be necessary to understand the passive voice interpretation of this Duolingo exercise.

    Yes, this Duolingo Spanish sentence is reflexive Spanish. Nevertheless, reflexive Spanish sentences can still communicate in the passive voice even if they are reflexive. Some students have the wrong idea that a reflexive Spanish sentence cannot communicate in the passive voice.


    i just put llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll


    the english translation is inaccurate...(it would have been opend perfectly)as it is passive


    This is not the best thing Dou made.

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