Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

4.3.1.1.1: Passive Modals

  • Page ID
    122335
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Passive Modals

    Form:

    Can

    BE

     

    Could

    HAVE BEEN

    Done

    Could

     

    Will

    Eaten

    Will

    Done

    Would

    Seen

    Would

    Eaten

    May

    Played

    May

    Seen

    Might

    Studied

    Might

    Played

    Should

    Drunk

    Should

    Studied

    Must

     

    Must

    Drunk

     

     

    Had to

     

     

     

    Had better

     

     

     

    Ought to

     

     

     

    To be able to

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

           The modal verbs use the passive voice the same way that all other tenses in English do. An Active sentence with a modal verb can be changed into a Passive sentence by making the subject of the active sentence the object of the passive sentence AND the object of the active sentence the subject of the passive sentence. For example:

    I will give you a test on Wednesday.
    A test will be given to you on Wednesday (by me).

    Snow might delay some flights over the Christmas break.
    Some flights might be delayed over the Christmas break (by snow).

    He must have eaten his lunch.
    His lunch must have been eaten (by him).  

           The basic meaning of these sentences is the same; only the "voice" is different.  In other words, the focus changes from the subject of the active sentence to the object of the active sentence.

           The passive voice is used when the subject of the active sentence is:

    unknown,     unimportant,     a secret,     a deception (a lie)

    Exercise 1:  Change the following sentences from the active voice to the passive voice.

    1. I am buying a book now.

     

    2.  I buy books every quarter.

     

    3.  We were buying books at the bookstore this morning.

     

    4.  We bought a book at the bookstore last week.

     

    5.  My sister will buy some books next week.

     

    6.  My sister will be buying her books at 6:00 PM tonight.

     

    7.  I have bought a book this morning.

     

    8.  My mother had bought a book before she went to the baby shower.

     

    9.  We will have bought many books by the time we finish our college careers.

     

    10.  My sister is driving her car now.

     

    11.  She drives her car every day.

     

    12.  I was driving my car this morning.

     

    13.  My wife drove her van to the post office.

     

    14.  My sister will be driving her car to Seattle next summer.

     

    15.  My son will drive my car to the party.

     

    16.  My son has driven my car many times.

     

    17.  My brother had driven trucks for four years before I got my license.

     

    18.  I will have driven cars for 55 years on my next birthday.

     

    19.  I must check my students’ homework papers.

     

    20.  Young children should obey their parents.

     

    21.  Children ought to eat healthy food.

     

    22.  They should have seen the stop sign.

     

    23.  He has seen the same movie three times.

     

    24.  We were playing with the neighbors’ dog.

     

    25.  The new mother is nursing her baby now.


    4.3.1.1.1: Passive Modals is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Don Bissonnette.