Saw this sign outside a small convenience store in Argentina:

se aceptan tarjetas de credito

While "aceptan" is obviously the third person plural conjugation of "aceptar", I thought the pronoun "se" refers to the impersonal third person singular. Do I miss something?

  • 1
    Note well, this is not an impersonal phrase, but the kind called pasiva refleja. It is equivalent to «Tarjetas de crédito son aceptadas» (only that's rather an unnatural way of saying it).
    – pablodf76
    Oct 6, 2018 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


Se doesn't distinguish number; it works both as singular and plural. In this it's different from other pronouns that form their plural with -s (there's los, las, les but there's no *ses). In this particular example se refers to the third person plural, agreeing with aceptan and tarjetas de crédito.

Since the second person pronouns usted and ustedes work grammatically as if they were third person, se can also refer to them.

Note well,

se aceptan tarjetas de crédito

is not an impersonal phrase, but one of the kind called pasiva refleja ("reflexive passive"). It is equivalent to «Tarjetas de crédito son aceptadas», only that would be rather an unnatural way of expressing the idea. There are a couple of questions addressing the difference between impersonal and passive, which is sometimes hard to spot.


Se can refer to:

  • 2nd person singular formal (usted)
  • 2nd person plural formal (ustedes) [regions with vosotros]
  • 2nd person plural informal (ustedes) [regions without vosotros]

  • 3rd person singular (él, ella)

  • 3rd person plural (ellos, ellas)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.