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).
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.
Modal verb (conjugated) + ser + past 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.
Nadie pudo localizar las joyas.
without changing the original meaning of the sentence.
Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »