Spanish Grammar: Impersonal se

The impersonal se in Spanish is used to form impersonal expressions. Impersonal expressions are used when the subject of the sentence or the verb is not specified. Impersonal expressions using the impersonal se are most common when making general statements or communicating generic rules. They're also used to ask what a word means or how to spell it. Review the following examples of impersonal expressions using se.

Is Spanish spoken in Africa?
¿Se habla español en Africa?
One should always tell the truth.
Siempre se debe decir la verdad.
How do you say "doctor" in Spanish?
¿Cómo se dice “doctor” en español?
How do you spell “otorrinolaringólogo”?
¿Cómo se escribe “otorrinolaringólogo”?

Forming the Impersonal "se"

The impersonal se is formed by adding "se" to the 3rd personal singular form of the verb, which is usually followed by a direct object.

    Impersonal se = se + 3rd person singular

Review the following examples.

It's necessary to work hard to achieve success.
Se necesita trabajar fuerte para tener éxito.
It's said the truth will set you free.
Se dice la verdad te hará libre.
Spanish is spoken in Spain.
Se habla español en España.
It's understood that drinking can be harmful.
Se entiende que la bebida puede ser perjudicial.