In El Templo Del Sol of Las Aventuras De Tintín Tintín claims that he saw someone spying on him, his friend and a policeman. The policeman then responds:

¿No se habrá confundido?

I figured out that habrá confundido is the futuro perfecto form which can be used to make an assumption which questions something which happend in the past. This would make sense to me in this context.

However, I'm not sure if this is a passive construct or not:

  • Is it se because confundirse is reflexive verb and thus the se is needed (-> active construct)?
  • Is it se because this is a passive construct (verb in question is the non-reflexive confundir)?

What is it and how can I know?

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. I have taken the liberty of adding the tag verbo-pronominal to your question. You may find it interesting to browse a few of the questions there.
    – mdewey
    Jan 6, 2021 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


This verb form is not reflexive. True reflexivity implies some action by the subject on itself, but becoming confused is not an action, and the subject of the verb is clearly not doing something to confuse himself; he is just confused or has gotten confused (possibly). It is also not passive (that is, it is not an example of the so-called voz pasiva refleja or se-passive) precisely because the verb cannot be interpreted as having the spying man deceiving himself, so there is no possible way to express the idea with a subject and an object, and if there is no underlying object, no passive is possible.

The DPD explains the various uses of confundir (in Spanish), and refers to confundirse as intransitive and pronominal. “Pronominal” only tells you it needs a reflexive pronoun, but it is a vague label. Technically this kind of verbs are said to be in mediopassive voice. A similar verb is enojarse. In general, verbs of involuntary perception, bodily sensations and emotion are mediopassive in Spanish, and appear as pronominal intransitives like cansarse, marearse, aburrirse, etc.

ADDENDA: Confundir can certainly be an active verb, with a meaning similar to engañar (that is, deceive, confuse or mislead someone, actively and/or willingly), but the pronominal version is always interpreted as mediopassive. A third use of confundir has the meaning of “mistake one thing (for another)”. This is an involuntary action or a mental state, and as such it sometimes becomes pronominal as well (confundirse una cosa con otra). Another pronominal version of the verb employs a prepositional complement with de, e.g. confundirse de lugar.

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