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Published on: Grammar Bites

How to use impersonal expressions with el verbo SER

When we talk about “impersonal expressions”, we’re referring to statements in which there’s no “yo, tú, él…” for a subject. Rather we use el verbo ser (always conjugated in the third person singular “es”) to shift the focus from the person saying something to what is being said.

The expresiones impersonales con SE help us asses or appraise something or someone.

Let’s take a closer look at these structures and their uses!

Verbo Ser (en 3ra. persona singular)  +  (un / una) SUSTANTIVO + INFINITIVO

We use this structure to refer to a general situation that can affect anyone:

  • Es una pena tener que renunciar a un buen trabajo. It’s a shame to have to quit a good job.
  • Es un lío tratar de obtener una visa. It’s so hard to get a visa.
Verbo Ser (en 3ra. persona singular)  + SUSTANTIVO  QUE + SUBJUNTIVO

We use this structure when discussing a specific situation affecting a specific person:

  • Es una pena que estés sin trabajo ahora. It’s a shame that you are unemployed right now.
  • Es un lío que ellos no puedan obtener una visa. It’s so hard that they can’t get a visa.
Verbo Ser (en 3ra. persona singular) + ADJETIVO + INFINITIVO

We use this structure to asses / appraise general situations. The adjectives in these structures are always masculine and singular. Some popular examples are:

  • Es bueno
  • Es malo
  • Es feo
  • Es necesario
  • Es bonito
  • Es fácil
  • Es importante

Por ejemplo:

  • Es bueno tener un trabajo para tener estabilidad. It’s good to have a job to have stability.
  • Es importante ser puntuales en esta empresa. It’s important to be punctual in this company.
Ser + ADJETIVO + QUE + SUBJUNTIVO

We use this structure to discuss a specific person; thus, it requires the use of the subjuntivo:

  • Es importante que tú hables con tu madre antes de tomar una decisión. It’s important that you speak to your mother before making a decision.
  • Es inútil que ustedes quieran cambiar mi opinión. It’s pointless that you try changing my mind.
Exceptions: 

The following impersonal expressions express facts and -as such- we must use them with the indicativo:

  • Es indudable que
  • Es seguro que
  • Es evidente que
  • Es obvio que
  • Es lógico que

Por ejemplo: Es obvio que él estudia español por muchos años. It’s obvious he’s been studying Spanish for years.

Activities for private students & members: 

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