Modal verbs are a kind of verb that behaves differently than the other verbs. Here are the ways in which they are different:
- They never end with an “s”.
- They can change the sentence into a question depending on how you use them.
- They are followed by another verb’s infinitive.
The modal verb “can” expresses the ability to do something, the possibility that something will happen, permission or, when used in a question, express a request.
|I can play football||this expresses ability|
|That can happen||this expresses possibility|
|You can go out!||this expresses permission|
|Can you help me?||this expresses a request|
The modal “could” is the past of “can” and it has the same behaviour of “can”. Sometimes it expresses conditionals (If I had a drive license, I could drive).
|I could play football||“could” is the same as “was able”|
|If I had a driver’s license, I could drive||this expresses the conditional|
|Could you help me?||this expresses a request|
The modal verb May expresses a prediction, something that can be true or is used for expressing permission.
|It may rain||this is a prediction|
|This news may be true||this means that something can be true|
|May I tell you something?||asking for permission|
Might means that something has a low possibility of happening. The difference between May and Might is that May has a higher possibility of happening.
|It might rain||this is a prediction that it’s possible that it could rain|
|This news might be true||this means that something has a low chance of being true|
|Might I tell you something?||asking for permission|
Must & Should:
Must and Should are used to express an obligation, advice or a prohibition. Generally, we use Must for something necessary, and Should for something advisable.
|You should see a doctor||this expresses an advice|
|You must see a doctor||this expresses an obligation|
|You should do your homework||this expresses an advice|
|You must do your homework||this expresses an obligation|
|You must not smoke here||this expresses a prohibition|
Will & Would:
Will is used to talk about intent of action towards the future, something that has a probability of happening in the future or for making promises. Would is the past tense of Will and is used to talk about the past, potential ideas and for being polite in proposing action.
|I will apply for a job||this expresses intent of action|
|It will rain soon||this expresses probability of something happening|
|I will help you||this expresses a promise|
|I would have wanted to go watch a movie||this is talking about the past|
|I would like to go out tomorrow||this expresses a potential idea|
|Would you help me on this?||this is a polite request|
It’s usually used in a question and it can express an offer or a suggestion.
|Shall I help you?||an offer|
|Shall we go to the supermarket?||a suggestion|
Let’s do some exercises with what we have learned already. Please create 2 sentences each using the words: can, could, may, might, must, should, shall.