Modal verbs

The modal verbs in English grammar are can, could, may, might, must, need not, shall/will, should/ought to.

The use of modal verbs :

  • ability
  • permission
  • possibility
  • obligation
  • Prohibition
  • Lack of necessity
  • Advice

The differences between the modal verbs and the normal verbs:

1: They don’t use an ‘s’ for the third person singular.

2: They make questions by inversion (‘she can go’ becomes ‘can she go?’).

3: They are followed directly by the infinitive of another verb (without ‘to’).

The usage of modals verbs :

  • Can : to express ability, for example: I can speak a little Spanish.
  • may: to express possibility, for example : I may be home late.
  • must : to express obligation, for example: I must go now, or to express strong belief She, for example : she must be over 90 years old.
  • Should : to give advice, for example :you must stop smoking.
  • Would : to request or offer, for example : would you like a cup of tea.

Examples :

  • Can I borrow your pencil??
  • Can I speak to Sara??
  • May I ask you a few questions?

We use the modals in the previous questions to ask for permission.

  • John can speak three languages.
  • I will be able to help you tomorrow.

So, we the use the modals here to express the ability.

  • Adam  may be coming to see us tomorrow.
  • This game might be very dangerous.

The usage of modals here for the possibility.

  • I must memorize all the rules about modals.
  • You mustn’t smoke here. It’s forbidden.

We use the modal must here to express the necessity.

  • You should take care of your health.
  • You must try to lose weight.

We use modals to say some advices.

Published by rashaadwan

English language teacher who will help you to improve your English skills and to learn more about the language

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