The amendment would have to be repassed.

What time does would have to + past participle indicate? How is it different from would have + past participle?

  • Welcome to English Language Learners. For this question, start by re-examining the way the sentence is structured: modal would + modal have to + infinitive be + past participle repassed. Would and have to are each adding their own discrete layers of meaning to the verb phrase.
    – pyobum
    Feb 11, 2015 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


Bear in mind that pass, in a legislative sense, may be either transitive or intransitive.

TRANSITIVE ACTIVE : The Senate passed the bill.
TRANSITIVE PASSIVE: The bill was passed by the Senate.
INTRANSITIVE : The bill passed.`

Now let's take your two sentences:

The amendment would have to be repassed.

This is not a perfect construction but willPAST + the modal idiom have to = must,as you can see from the fact that it is followed by the infinitive be rather than the past participle been. The use of a form of BE followed by a past participle (repassed) indicates passive voice, which requires the verb to be understood as transitive. It means, approximately:

It would be necessary to passTRANSITIVE the bill again.

The past form of will may mean (1) 'future in past' reference or (2) 'modal remoteness', an unlikely or counterfactual hypothetical.

(1) A procedural error meant that the amendment would have to be repassed.
(2) If we could get Sen. Blowhard to agree the amendment would have to be repassed.

The amendment would have repassed.

This is a perfect construction in form, but actually represents a "double past": would employed in the hypothetical sense marked with a following 'perfect' to indicate past time reference. It means, approximately:

The bill did not passINTRANSITIVE again in our world, but did in some alternate universe.

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