Posted by: Idioma Extra | October 23, 2013

Grammar Guru

Past Passive with Modals

We will continue the theme of the Passive Voice, and today we will focus on using modals in the past.

If you missed last week’s Grammar Guru, click here to review.

Again, we use the passive voice to take the emphasis off of the person doing the action. We want the attention to be on the action.

The structure for past passive with modals is modal (not) +have been + past participle.

For example:

Active: She could have played the violin.

Passive: The violin could have been played by her.

Below are some of the modals in present and past:

1. Could for past possibility

  • Pancakes can be made on a stove. (present)
  • They could have been made in the oven, but they wouldn’t have turned out so good.(past)

2. Might for permission or past possibility

  • Bikes may be ridden on this bike path.(present)
  • Earlier, these bikes might have been taken through the streets of Minneapolis.(past)

3. Would for past possibility

  • Flowers will be grown in my garden again this summer.(present)
  • Corn would have been grown last summer, but corn stalks take up too much space.(past)

4. Had to be for past obligation

  • Her work has to be done by tomorrow or she’ll get in trouble with her boss.(present)
  • Originally, it had to have been done by yesterday, but her boss gave her extra time to finish it.(past)

5. Should for past advice or suggestions

  • Something should be done about global warming or else some types of penguins will perish from the earth.(present)
  • Something should have been done many years ago but wasn’t. (past)

Now, take the Comprehension Quiz to see how you do!


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