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

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.


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.


Q&A Forum 3 questions, 5 answers

AllisonC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Oops, that didn't copy right

The given translation was:

"tienen que ser acreditados por"

and my answer, marked incorrect, was:

"deberían ser acreditados por"

Asked 8 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Allison

It is a very close correct answer but not quite. 

We accept as correct:

1. Tienen que ser acreditados

2. Deben ser acreditados

But "deberían ser acreditados" means "should be accredited".

Un saludo cordial

Inma

AllisonC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

OK, that makes more sense.

Thank you!

Oops, that didn't copy right

The given translation was:

"tienen que ser acreditados por"

and my answer, marked incorrect, was:

"deberían ser acreditados por"

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HansC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.
Asked 10 months ago
SilviaKwiziq team member

¡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.

HansC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Silvia, thank you!

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.

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AlfredoC1Kwiziq community member

Can it also be said...

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

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

thanks,

-alf-

Asked 1 year ago
SilviaKwiziq team member

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

Many thanks,

Silvia.

Can it also be said...

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

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

thanks,

-alf-

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