Usage of Some Modals

Modal verbs, sometimes called modals, are auxiliary verbs (helping verbs). They express such things as possibility, probability, permission and obligation.

Can, could, might, may, must, should, will, would and shall are modal verbs.


1. We use a modal verb before a second verb.

2. Modal verbs are not followed by ‘to’.

NOTE: It’s important for learners to remember that modal verbs can have more than one meaning and function.

A) Modal verbs to express ability

Can, could, was able to – modal verbs to express ability

Pruthvi can swim.

B) Modal verbs to express permission

Can, can’t, could, may: modal verbs for permission

Can I go and meet the manager now?


C)Modal verbs to express probability and certainty (modal verbs of deduction)

Present tense modal verbs of deduction: must, can’t, may, might, could

Past tense modal verbs of deduction: must have, can’t have, couldn’t have


D) Modal verbs to express obligation

Should – to express weak obligation, advice

Should have – to express unfulfilled obligation in the past

He should have come in time to the meeting.


E) Modal verbs to express willingness

Will, won’t, would, wouldn’t– to express willingness

I will meet you tomorrow.

Summary

Modal verbs, sometimes called modals, are auxiliary verbs (helping verbs). They express such things as possibility, probability, permission and obligation.

Can, could, might, may, must, should, will, would and shall are modal verbs.


1. We use a modal verb before a second verb.

2. Modal verbs are not followed by ‘to’.

NOTE: It’s important for learners to remember that modal verbs can have more than one meaning and function.

A) Modal verbs to express ability

Can, could, was able to – modal verbs to express ability

Pruthvi can swim.

B) Modal verbs to express permission

Can, can’t, could, may: modal verbs for permission

Can I go and meet the manager now?


C)Modal verbs to express probability and certainty (modal verbs of deduction)

Present tense modal verbs of deduction: must, can’t, may, might, could

Past tense modal verbs of deduction: must have, can’t have, couldn’t have


D) Modal verbs to express obligation

Should – to express weak obligation, advice

Should have – to express unfulfilled obligation in the past

He should have come in time to the meeting.


E) Modal verbs to express willingness

Will, won’t, would, wouldn’t– to express willingness

I will meet you tomorrow.

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