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I've been researching the use cases for "se", and regarding uses of the impersonal variant, I came across the following examples. In the bottom two, I have added (in parens) what I believe would be the quasi-equivalent in English, but don't understand if there's a reasonable translation for the first example.

“Se renta departamento amueblado.”
-> Furnished apartment for rent.
    
“Se reparan lavadoras y refrigeradores.”
-> (We) Fix washing machines and refrigerators.

“Se pica la carne en cuadritos.”
-> (You) Chop the meat into squares.

My questions... Do I have the bottom two translated reasonably, and what is the "se" referring to in the first example? Is it simply "We rent a furnished apartment"?

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    It's worth noting that some English speakers use the impersonal "one" instead of "you". As in "One chops the meat into squares." Apr 11 at 4:36
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    Another example might be "se habla español". Apr 11 at 4:39
  • "One"... that's awesome insight... thanks @WalterMitty!
    – stevieb
    Apr 11 at 4:48
  • You can also turn some of them into a passive. Washing machines and refrigerators repaired here. Furnished apartment for rent is also similar to a passive. The construction is super-common, signs say Se vende (casa) or Se aquila (casa) are everywhere.
    – mdewey
    Apr 11 at 12:30
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    I agree with mdewey, "Se reparan lavadoras" is something that you can see in a store window. Like "Se busca camarero" in a bar or restaurant, whose equivalent is "Help wanted: Waiter" or something like that. "We fix washing machines" in Spanish is "Reparamos lavadoras". Can you see the difference?
    – RubioRic
    Apr 11 at 16:43

3 Answers 3

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“Se renta departamento amueblado.”

“Se reparan lavadoras y refrigeradores.”

“Se pica la carne en cuadritos.”

All three are examples of the "se"-passive which, unlike the passive with the verb "ser", cannot take the agent and does sound impersonal.

The translations are perfect but, grammar-wise, it would be more accurate to say:

  • A furnished apartment is rented.

  • Washing machines and refrigerators are fixed (here).

  • The meat is chopped in cubes.

Grammatically speaking, the sentences are passive because, if the subject were plural (as is the case with "lavadoras y refrigeradores"), a plural verb would be used.

Here you can find more information as to when that "se" is passive and when impersonal.

“Se rentan departamentos amueblados.” -> Furnished apartments are rented.

“Se pican los trozos de carne en cuadritos.” The pieces of meat are chopped into cubes.

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For the last one I would have said
"The meat is chopped into squares"
as an instruction.

For the other two I agree - they refer to an unknown person offering a service.

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I was reading about the “passive voice” in Spanish and all I can tell you is that nobody has agreed if it is indeed that or if it exists or anything.

But what I can tell you is: -se renta cuarto amueblado- that’s technically erroneous. Why? Very simple, in Spanish (just as in English) you need a subject performing the action, and indeed you have it, however does it make sense to you that a room will rent itself? or the owner of the room -or the house- is the one renting it.

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