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  5. "This bicycle is used by my b…

"This bicycle is used by my brother."

Translation:Esta bicicleta la usa mi hermano.

February 5, 2013



I think the rule here is that when the object of the verb precedes the verb in the sentence, the direct object pronoun must be inserted directly before the verb. So this is not really the passive construction in Spanish, though it can be translated as such in English. It can also be translated as "my brother uses this bicycle" and written in Spanish as "Mi hermano usa esta bicicleta" - without the "la"


What you said makes sense.I have forgotten my grammar regarding passive sentence construction. The sentence highlights the use of a direct object pronoun (la) by using a feminine object. So if that's true the bike is the object and the brother is the subject? Grammarians anyone?


Absolutely, the sentence is an "Active" (as opposed to "Passive ") construction where the direct object has been moved to the beginning of the sentence and the pronoun "la" added to clarify which is the object. I read the sentence backwards and it becomes: "my brother uses it, this bicycle), that sems to clarify it a bit for me :))???


Have a look at this reference. This page is suggesting I think the opposite.

"A sentence in which the subject of the main verb is also acted on by the verb is in the passive voice. We can also say that the verb is in the passive voice.

The passive voice is much more common in English than in Spanish, which often uses reflexive verbs where English uses the passive voice.

El coche será manejado por mi padre. Note that the person performing the action isn't the subject of the sentence, but is the object of a prepositional phrase. This sentence is less likely to be said in Spanish than its equivalent in English would be. More common in Spanish would be the active voice: Mi padre manejará el coche."

Since the reflexive verb was used in our example is it not passive? The example My brother uses the bicycle is active right? Why would Duo use it this way? Trying to understand.


I'm a bit confused, are you thinking that "la usa" is reflexive? because you've already established that "la" is the direct object pronoun, it would be "se" if it was reflexive. The use of reflexive verbs in Spanish to form the passive as mentioned in your reference refers to the following. The sentence "The castle was built in 1460" could be written using the reflexive as follows "El castillo se construyó en 1460". Apparently this construction is more frequent with inanimate objects than humans due to a possible conflict of meanings. For example "El hombre se cortó" could mean "The man cut himself" or "The man was cut", whereas "El castillo se construyó" cannot mean "The castle built itself" This use of the reflexive as passive is only possible as long as the agent that carried out the action is not mentioned, therefore if the sentence were "The castle was built by the king" the normal passive construction would have to be used as in "El castillo fue construido por el rey" Sorry if you already knew all that :))


I did confuse the issue. I admit I am trying to get a better grasp on active/passive sentence structure. I have read your comments a few times. Because I mentioned the reflexive I can see why your focus was on "se".

I guess what I really wanted to know was is "esta bicicleta la usa mi hermano" a passive sentence. If it is and if its true that spanish doesn't use passive normally why would they here? I thought Mi hermano usa esta bicileta would be active and the norm based on the reference I found.

As a separate conversation I found your use of 'se' interesting and I don't want to pass up the opportunity to learn something. I do understand its reflexive - the action reflects back to subject. You are saying something I didn't know and I'm not quite getting. You said "the use of the reflexive as passive can't mention the {doer} ". Your example "el castillo se construyó en 1460". Is the function of 'se' taking on -what I can only think of- double duty. It almost seems like its a direct object pronoun and using your comments a reflexive pronoun. I'm probably going in circles here.


Firstly, the direct object of a verb can quite often appear before the verb in Spanish ACTIVE sentences without changing the meaning. "esta bicicleta la usa mi hermano" is not a passive construction, it's merely a change in word order as a matter of style. Duolingo have confused the issue by translating it into an English passive voice which admittedly doesn't change the meaning at all. Secondly, I think terminology is confusing us with the reflexive/passive constructions. Reflexive verbs are really a sub-category of an overall group called PRONOMINAL VERBS. This group is defined as "verbs that have an object pronoun that is of the same person and number as the subject of the verb",this would include the reflexive use and the passive use among several others. The best thing is to give a few examples of the various meanings that Pronominal verbs can have 1) REFLEXIVE - To show that an action is done TO or FOR oneself. eg: Me lavo - I wash myself Se llama Pedro - He calls himself Pedro 2) PASSIVE - Used mostly with inanimate objects eg: El castillo se construyó en 1420 - The castle was built in 1420 Se compran libros de ocasión - Second hand books bought 3) IMPERSONAL - Equivalent of English impersonal "one", "people", "you" eg: Se está mejor al sol - One's better off in the sun En España se duerme por la tarde - In Spain people sleep in the afternoon 4) RECIPROCAL - When verb is plural, meaning to do something TO or FOR one another. eg: Se escriben todas los días - they write to each other every day. Nos respetamos(el uno al otro) - We respect one another (without "el uno..." could
mean we respect ourselves) 5) NUANCE OF MEANING eg: llevar - to carry, wear. llevarse - to take away parecer - to seem. parecerse - to resemble 6) DIFFERENT MEANING ALTOGETHER eg: despedir - to fire, despedirse - to say goodbye admirar - to admire, admirarse - to be surprised 7) VERBS THAT ONLY APPEAR IN PRONOMINAL eg: abstenerse - to abstain quejarse de - to complain about

And several others, so moral of story is 'when you see pronominal, don't just think reflexively' :) Sorry, the formatting has changed after posting


This is definitely a passive sentence in English. When did we learn the passive voice??


Ahhh…..Yes--I switched the obj and subj which was accepted. So if the obj comes before the verb then it should be connected to verb in the D.O. position? por ejemplo: el libro lo leen las niñas?


Correct. "The girls are reading the book." This does put the focus on "the book". You might say it this way it if the book were the topic of the paragraph and the girls reading it were just another bit of info about it.


Muchas gracias. :)


Duolingo has chosen to use the English passive to translate Esta bicicleta la usa mi hermano, but the sentence is definitely not passive in Spanish. The subject is mi hermano and the direct object is Esta bicicleta. I'll explain the la in a second.

One of the biggest challenges of reading Spanish (anyone doing Immersion knows this) is figuring out where the subject and object are, since they can move around pretty freely and often end up on the same side of the verb. The "personal a" can be a godsend because it often identifies the object when little else does. You don't see one in this sentence, do you? So we know that mi hermano cannot be the object of the verb.

When the direct object comes in front of the verb, Spanish has a special rule that requires you use a pronoun for it--as if you had left it out entirely. That's what the la is doing there. Perhaps the best way for an English speaker to think of Esta bicicleta la usa mi hermano is that it says, "This bicycle--my brother uses it." Translating it as a passive is a bit more grammatical, but also a bit misleading.


Although I do not really follow the rule you cited- I can see it a bit more clearly with " This bicycle - my brother uses it. I just used esta bicicleta se usa por by hermano.


where the hell did usada come from? the word isn't even in the list of possible conjugations


'usada' is the past participle of the verb 'usar' in it's feminine form, it means 'used'. 'Esta bicicleta es usada por mi hermano' - Another possible translation of 'this bicycle is used by my brother' using the passive construction. :))


Since our great discussion I found another reference about passive sentence construction.


What really clicked for me was that the sentence we had and their example " El coche será manejado por mi padre." I can see that the person performing the action is not the subject.

It took a while but it's now really understood. I hope someone else can benefit from my lesson learned.


Thanks for posting that. I found it helpful.


Why no personal "a" in front of mi hermano?


Because "mi hermano" is the subject of the sentence - the bicycle is the object and is thus being acted upon.


So, I'm having me a think here. When we see those pronouns (direct in this case, I believe), I'm used to seeing an "a" letting us know what it refers to. Is the reason we don't see that here because the bicycle comes first? In other words, if "my brother" came first, would it be: "Mi hermano la usa a esta bicicleta?" That doesn't really sound right. What am I missing here?

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