Passives with Modals

There are about nine modals that are really common in Canadian English:

  • can
  • could
  • will
  • would
  • shall (used in question forms usually)
  • should
  • might
  • may
  • must

There are two basic patterns we use for passive modals.

1. The first one is easy: modal + be + past participle.

Active Verb Passive Verb Example
can see can be seen That painting can be seen in the Louvre.
should do should be done The work should be done on time.
would sell would be sold The tickets would be sold there if possible.
might finish might be finished It might be finished by next week.
must pay must be paid Employees must be paid on the last day of the month.

arrrow to the right Complete Exercise 1: Passive Modals now and then close the window to continue with the lesson.

2. The other pattern is a little longer: modal + have been + past participle

Active Modal Passive Modal Example
could have done could have been done It could have been done by John.
should have finished should have been finished It should have been finished yesterday.
might have lost might have been lost It might have been lost when we were travelling.

arrrow to the right Complete Exercise 2: Passive Modals now and then close the window.