Using modal verbs in the passive voice

Modal verbs can be combined with the passive voice in Spanish, the same way as in English, e.g "He should be put in prison" or "I had to be taken to hospital."

The modal verb is conjugated in the required tense and then followed by "ser" + participle (agreeing with the subject).

For example:

Deber (must/should)

Ella debe ser trasladada a otro hospital.
She must be transferred to another hospital.

Este candidato debería ser considerado para el nuevo puesto de director.
This candidate should be considered for the new post of director.

Tener que (to have to)

Lidia tuvo que ser atendida por el director del hotel.
Lidia had to be taken care of by the hotel director.

Ellas han tenido que ser acompañadas a casa porque era muy tarde.
They had to be accompanied home because it was very late.

Querer (to want)

La cantante no quiso ser fotografiada por los periodistas después del concierto.
The singer didn't want/refused to be photograped by the journalists after the concert.

El ganador no ha querido ser identificado en público.
The winner didn't want to be identified publiclly.

Poder (to be able to)

Las joyas perdidas no pudieron ser localizadas.
The lost jewels couldn't be found.

Los sacos de harina podrán ser distribuídos por las aldeas pobres.
The sacks of flour can be distributed around the poor hamlets. [lit: will be able to be distributed]

 Necesitar (to need)

El producto necesita ser codificado.
The product needs to be coded.

Las flores necesitarán ser enviadas pronto.
The flowers will need to be sent soon.

Remember:

Modal verb (conjugated) + serpast participle (agreeing with subject)

 

Note that the passive voice is not as commonly used in Spanish as it is in English. Sometimes, to avoid the formal passive in Spanish we find alternatives in the active voice or using the passive "se" construction.

For example for:

Las joyas perdidas no pudieron ser localizadas.

we could also say:

No se pudieron localizar las joyas.
or
Nadie pudo localizar las joyas.

without changing the original meaning of the sentence.

Examples and resources

Las joyas perdidas no pudieron ser localizadas.
The lost jewels couldn't be found.


Ellas han tenido que ser acompañadas a casa porque era muy tarde.
They had to be accompanied home because it was very late.


Los sacos de harina podrán ser distribuídos por las aldeas pobres.
The sacks of flour can be distributed around the poor hamlets. [lit: will be able to be distributed]


Lidia tuvo que ser atendida por el director del hotel.
Lidia had to be taken care of by the hotel director.


Las flores necesitarán ser enviadas pronto.
The flowers will need to be sent soon.


Este candidato debería ser considerado para el nuevo puesto de director.
This candidate should be considered for the new post of director.


El ganador no ha querido ser identificado en público.
The winner didn't want to be identified publiclly.


Ella debe ser trasladada a otro hospital.
She must be transferred to another hospital.


El producto necesita ser codificado.
The product needs to be coded.


La cantante no quiso ser fotografiada por los periodistas después del concierto.
The singer didn't want/refused to be photograped by the journalists after the concert.


Q&A

Hans

Kwiziq community member

21 November 2018

2 replies

Las aceitunas __ en septiembre with deber and not tener que

For me the next question would have been with a hint added to use deber and not tener que. Maybe i am wrong, maybe tener que means something else...Las aceitunas ________ en septiembre. The olives must be harvested in September.

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

21 November 2018

21/11/18

¡Hola Hans! You should be able to use "deber" and "tener que", as both options are accepted as correct in the system. Please let us know if you still are having issues with this. Do not forget to make the agreement!

Silvia.

Hans

Kwiziq community member

21 November 2018

21/11/18

Silvia, thank you!

alfredo

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

1 reply

Can it also be said...

"Ellas han tenido que ser acompañadas...."

could this also be translated "Ellas tuvieron que ser acompañadas"?

thanks,

-alf-

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

19 October 2018

19/10/18

¡Hola Alfredo! Yes, both translations in Spanish are correct for that sentence.

Many thanks,

Silvia.

Getting that for you now.