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Impersonal Verbs

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Infographics of Impersonal Verbs

Verbs with no Subject in The Sentence - Impersonal Verbs

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Impersonal verbs are verbs with no subject in the sentence. They are sometimes called incomplete or defective verbs. As the name indicates, impersonal, they do not have a person or a personal pronoun working as a subject in the Spanish language. However the action takes place. 

It does not matter if there is not a subject in the sentence in the Spanish language as long as there is a verb and a complement. 

Some of the impersonal verbs in Spanish are known as weather verbs when they refer to llovió (it rained), nevó (it snowed), anochece (it gets dark). We cannot use a subject because no one can perform weather action. 

Llovió mucho anoche. It rained a lot last night. 
Nevó en la montaña. It snowed in the mountain. 
Llueve solo en la mañana. It only rains in the morning. 
Anocheció como a las 10. It got dark around 10. 

  • Llovió mucho anoche. =It rained a lot last night.

  • Nevó en la montaña. =It snowed in the mountain.

  • Llueve solo en la mañana. =It only rains in the morning.

  • Anocheció como a las 10. =It got dark around 10.

Impersonal Verbs Referring to There is, There are

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Others refers to existence such as hay (there is) – hay (there are for plural, había/hubo (there was) – había/hubo (there were for plural), habrá (there will be), habría (there would be), podría haber (there could be), and debe haber (there must be). 

Había muchas flores en el jardín. There were a lot of flowers in the garden. 
Habria algunas oportunidades. There would be some opportunities. 
Hubo un accidente en la carretera. There was an accident on the road. 
Hay mucha gente en la parada. There are a lot of people at the bus stop. 
Habrá una tormenta esta noche. There will be a storm tonight. 
Debe haber alguien allí. There must be someone there. 


  • Había muchas flores en el jardín.  =There were a lot of flowers in the garden.

  • Habria algunas oportunidades. =There would be some opportunities.

  • Hubo un accidente en la carretera. =There was an accident on the road.

  • Hay mucha gente en la parada.  =There are a lot of people at the bus stop.

  • Habrá una tormenta esta noche. =There will be a storm tonight.

  • Debe haber alguien allí. =There must be someone there.

Impersonal Verb To Be

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The verb to be is also used as impersonal verb in Spanish when it refers to the weather or to the passing of time. 

Es invierno It is winter. 
Hace mucho calor. It is very hot. 
Está despejado hoy. It is a shining day. 
Hace años que no nos vemos. It’s been a while.
Hizo frio anoche. It was cold last night. 
Anochece temprano en invierno. It get dark early in winter. 
Parece que va a llover. It looks like it's going to rain.


  • Es invierno =It is winter.

  • Hace mucho calor. =It is very hot.

  • Está despejado hoy. =It is a shining day.

  • Hace años que no nos vemos. =It’s been a while.

  • Hizo frio anoche.  =It was cold last night.

  • Anochece temprano en invierno. =It get dark early in winter.

  • Parece que va a llover. =It looks like it's going to rain.

Impersonal Verbs Referring to Negative Physical Affections

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Some other impersonal verbs are related to the senses or negative physical affections. 

Huele a café. It smells like coffee.  
Duele demasiado. It hurts a lot. 
Se siente pesado. It feels heavy. 
Se ve grande. It looks big. 
Pica mucho. It is very itchy. 
Suena como un avión. It sounds like a plane. 
Parece azul. It looks blue. 

  • Huele a café. =It smells like coffee.

  • Duele demasiado. =It hurts a lot.

  • Se siente pesado. =It feels heavy.

  • Se ve grande. =It looks big.

  • Pica mucho.  =It is very itchy.

  • Suena como un avión. =It sounds like a plane.

  • Parece azul. =It looks blue.

Impersonal Verbs in Spanish Vs Passive Voice in English

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Some impersonal verbs are used in Spanish to refer to the passive voice in English. One perfect example is when we do not know or we do not want to say who does the action. 

Se dice que ella vendrá. It is said she is coming. 
Se piensa que hay vida en otro planeta. It is thought there is life in another planet. 
Se cree que habrá cura. It is believed there will be a cure. 
Se dice que ellos se casaran. It is said they will get married. 


  • Se dice que ella vendrá. =It is said she is coming.

  • Se piensa que hay vida en otro planeta. =It is thought there is life in another planet.

  • Se cree que habrá cura. =It is believed there will be a cure.

  • Se dice que ellos se casaran. =It is said they will get married.

Impersonal Verbs Used as Plural to Refer Third Person

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Some impersonal verbs can be used as plural of the third person while in English we used an indefinite pronoun or a personal pronoun as the subject. 

Tocan la puerta. Someone is knocking on the door. 
Llaman por telefono. Someone is calling on the phone. 
Vienen llegando. They are arriving. 
Tocan el timbre. Someone is ringing the bell. 


Impersonal verbs vary in Spanish while in English we only use there + be. You should take into consideration that in English you cannot omit the subject but in Spanish you can. So you should be careful when comparing both languages. 

  • Tocan la puerta. =Someone is knocking on the door.

  • Llaman por telefono. =Someone is calling on the phone.

  • Vienen llegando. =They are arriving.

  • Tocan el timbre. =Someone is ringing the bell.

Related Lessons in Expert Course, to further your understanding.

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The Subjunctive

UtterBug Benefits

The Infinitive

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Prepositions After Verbs

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Verbal Idioms

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