Unit 4.2



Modal Verbs in Passive Voice

Modal Verbs

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Introduction

The passive form expresses the idea of something or someone receiving an action or experiencing a particular event or effect. {see Passive Structure, B1 level}

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary (helping) verb that has no meaning on its own but it modifies the main verb, changes its meaning and gives more details about the action.

We can use passive voice with modal verbs too.

Form

The present form of the passive structure is:

  • Affirmative: Subject + modal verb + be + past participle + …
  • Negative: Subject + modal verb + not + be + past participle + …
  • Interrogative: Modal verb + Subject + be + past participle + …?

The past form of the passive structure is:

  • Affirmative: Subject + modal verb + have been + past participle + …
  • Negative: Subject + modal verb + not + have been + past participle + …
  • Interrogative: Modal verb + Subject + have been + past participle + …?

The future form of the passive structure is:

  • Affirmative: Subject + modal verb + be + past participle/being + past participle + …
  • Negative: Subject + modal verb + not + be + past participle/being + past participle + …
  • Interrogative: Modal verb + Subject + be + past participle/being + past participle + …?

Example

  • Your accessories may be stolen by thieves.
  • Your accessories may not be stolen by thieves.
  • May your accessories be stolen by thieves?

  • A nice garden could have been obtained by maintenance.
  • A nice garden couldn’t have been obtained by maintenance.
  • Could a nice garden be obtained by maintenance?

  • He will be given a short-sighted glasses by the doctor.
  • He won’t be given a short-sighted glasses by the doctor.
  • Will he be given a short-sighted glasses by the doctor?

Use

We can use also modal verbs in passive structures.

Summary

We can use also modal verbs (can/could, may/might, must, shall/should, will/would) in passive structures. {see Passive Structure, B1 level}

This structure can be used in present, past and future forms.

For example:
— “The lost jewels could be found by the police.” = We use could in the past to show the possibility the agent police had to find the lost jewels. The focus is on the agent.
— “The lost jewels could be found.” = We use could in the past to show the possibility the subject the lost jewels had to be found. The focus is on the lost jewels.
 “The police could find the lost jewels.”  = In the active form the focus is on the subject the police and the modal verb is followed by an active verb, which shows the action performed by the subject.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises


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