6

Modal verbs

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Modal verbs are used to talk about ability, possibility, obligation, prohibition, or to make requests or offers.

Form


​​​​​Modal verb + Verb (bare infinitive)

Modal verbs

Usages

Examples




Can

Ability

I can play the piano very well.

Permission

Can I go now?

Possibility

It can be a very good day tomorrow.

Offer

I can help you with this homework. Don’t worry!

Request

Can you please pass me the salt?





Could

Ability in the past

I could play the piano well when I was 9.

Polite permission

Excuse me, could I come in?

Possibility

A hailstorm could come here tomorrow.

Polite offer

No problem. I could give you a lift.

Polite request

Could you please move to the next slide?


May

Permission

May I leave early?

Possibility

Astronauts may discover life in other planets.



Might

Polite permission

Might I take you home?

Possibility

I might visit him tomorrow if the weather is nice.


Must

Obligation

You must do homework.

Certainty

He must be at the cinema now. He told me about that yesterday.

Mustn't

Prohibition

You mustn’t play here. It’s dangerous.





Will

Prediction

The weather forecast predicts that it’ll rain tonight.

Promise

I’ll finish all the homework by Friday.

Spontaneous decision

I’ll lend you some money.

Request/ demand

Will you please give me that book?



Would

Used as the past form of “will”

My dad said that he would give me some toys on my birthday.

Polite request/ demand

Would you mind closing the door, please?



Shall

Prediction

This time tomorrow I shall be in London.

Offer/ suggestion

Shall we discuss this further with him?



Should

Advice

You should see the doctor. It’s swollen.

Prediction/ expectation

The project should be done before May.

Polite suggestion

Should I call her to say sorry?



Ought to

Obligation

You ought to say good bye to your parents when you leave.

Advice

You ought to sleep early. You look really tired.


Needn't

Used to talk about something not necessary

You needn’t give him any advice. He won’t listen.

 

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