MODAL VERBS The modal verbs (also called modal auxiliary verbs, modal auxiliaries are: can, may, must, shall, will, could, may, might, should, would, have to, ought to. These verbs are auxiliary verbs that provide additional and specific meaning to main verbs in sentences. These are verbs that indicate advice, ability, probability, possibility, certainty, suggestion, permission, prohibition or obligation. Note that Modal verbs are different from normal verbs: 1: They don't use an 's' for the third person singular. OR they never change their form. (you cannot add ‘s’, ‘ed’, ‘ing’) 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'). 4. They are used to indicate modality allow speakers to express certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, ability USES OF MODAL VERBS: 1.To Show Probability: First, they can be used when we want to say how sure we are that something happened /is happening/ will happen. We often call these 'modals of deduction' or 'speculation' or ‘certainty’or'probability'. For example: a) It’s snowing, so it must be very cold outside. b) I don't know where John is. He could have missed the train. c) This bill can't be right. £200 for two cups of coffee! 2.To Express Ability: We use 'can' and 'could' to talk about a skill or ability. For example: a) She can speak six languages. c)I can't drive. b) My grandfather could play golf very well. 3. To Express Obligation and Advice: We can use verbs such as 'must' for obligation and or 'should, ought to, had better' for advice to say when something is necessary or unnecessary, or to give advice. Eg: a) Children must do their homework. b) We have to wear a uniform at work. 4.To Ask Permission: We can use verbs such as 'can', 'could' and 'may' to ask for and give permission. We also use modal verbs to say something is not allowed. Example: a) Could I leave early today, please? c) Can we swim in the lake? b) May I use the car tonight. 5. To Show Habits: We can use 'will' and 'would' to talk about habits or things we usually do, or did in the past. For example: a) When I lived in Italy, we would often eat in the restaurant next to my flat. b) John will always be late! 6.To Make Request: We can use ‘can’ or ‘could’ here. Eg. a) Can I use your pen, please? b) Could you help me, please? 7.To Show prohibition: Here, we use ‘must not’. Eg. a) You must not miss class. b) She must not smoke cigarette. 8.T0 Ask for permission: Using ‘can, could, may’ Eg. a) Can I go to toilet? b) Could I use this pen, please? Past modals: The past modals 'could have + past participle', 'should have + past participle' and 'would have + past participle' can be confusing. They show the possibility of doing something in the past time. Eg. a) You could have scored good mark. b) You didn’t do your homework, but you should have done it. SUMMARY Modal verbs are used to: 1.Ask permission using [may, can, could] Eg. May I come in? 2. Make a request using [can, could] Eg. Could you lend me your pen, please? 3. Express a possibility using [may, might, could] Eg. My mother may come at 5:00. 4. Give advice or suggestion using [should] Eg. You should study hard. 5. Express necessity or compulsion using [ must, have to] Eg. We must attend class. 6. Express prohibition using [must not] Eg.You must not talk loudly in the library. 7. Express a promise or intention using [will, shall] Eg. I will lend you my book. 8. Express a wish using [may] Eg. May you have a nice day! Dear students, you can study the following table with list of modals with examples: Modal Verb Must must not Can could Expressing Example Strong obligation You must stop when the traffic lights turn red. logical conclusion / Certainty He must be very tired. He's been working all day long. Prohibition You must not smoke in the hospital. Ability I can swim. Permission Can I use your phone please? Possibility Smoking can cause cancer. ability in the past When I was younger, I could run fast. polite permission Excuse me, could I just say something? Possibility It could rain tomorrow! Permission May I use your phone please? possibility, probability It may rain tomorrow! may polite permission Might I suggest an idea? possibility, probability I might go on holiday to Australia next year. lack of necessity/absence of obligation I need not buy tomatoes. There are plenty of tomatoes in the fridge. 50 % obligation I should / ought to see a doctor. I have a terrible headache. Advice You should / ought to revise your lessons logical conclusion He should / ought to be very tired. He's been working all day long. Advice You 'd better revise your lessons might need not should/ought to had better ACTIVITY Instruction: Choose the most appropriate modal verb given in bracket that best completes the given gap. 1.There are plenty of tomatoes in the fridge. You ____buy any. (mustn’t, needn’t, may not, shouldn’t) 2.It is a hospital. You _____ smoke. (mustn’t, needn’t. may not, don’t have to) 3.He had been working for more than 11 hours. He ____be tired after such hard work. (must, need, had better, mustn’t). He _____ prefer to get some rest. (may, should, must, had better). 4.I______ (could, might, can, must) speak Arabic fluently when I was a child and we lived in Morocco. But after we moved back to Canada, I had very little exposure to the language and forgot almost everything I knew as a child. Now, I_______ (may, can, must, need) just say a few things in the language. 5.The teacher said we _____ (can, needn’t, must, should) read this book for our own pleasure as it is optional. But we ____(could, need, needn’t, mustn’t) read it if we don't want to. 6.______(may, need, must, can) you stand on your head for more than a minute? No, I___(may not, need not, can’t). 7.If you want to learn to speak English fluently, you ____ (could, need, needn’t, mustn’t) to work hard. 8.Take an umbrella. It_____ (need, should, mustn’t, might) rain later. 9.You _____(shouldn’t, need, needn’t, may not) leave small objects lying around . Such objects _____(must, need, may, mustn’t) be swallowed by children. 10.People_______ (couldn’t, needn’t, mustn’t, may not) walk on grass. 11.Drivers_____ (could, must, may) stop when the traffic lights are red. 12. ____ (could, must, may) I ask a question? Yes, of course. 13.You______ (couldn’t, needn’t, mustn’t, may not) take your umbrella. It is not raining. 14. _____ (can, need, should, may) you speak Italian? No, I_____ (shouldn’t, mustn’t, may not, can’t). Answers 1.There are plenty of tomatoes in the fridge. You needn't buy any. 2.It's a hospital. You mustn’t smoke. 3.He had been working for more than 11 hours. He must be tired after such hard work. He may prefer to get some rest. 4. I could speak Arabic fluently when I was a child and we lived in Morocco. But after we moved back to Canada, I had very little exposure to the language and forgot almost everything I knew as a child. Now, I can just say a few things in the language. 5.The teacher said we can read this book for our own pleasure as it is optional. But we needn't read it if we don't want to. 6.Can you stand on your head for more than a minute? No, I can't. 7.If you want to learn to speak English fluently, you need to work hard. 8.Take an umbrella. It might rain later. 9.You shouldn't leave small objects lying around. Such objects may be swallowed by children. 10.People mustn't walk on grass. 11.Drivers must stop when the traffic lights are red. 12.May I ask a question? Yes, of course. 13.You needn't take your umbrella. It is not raining. 14.Can you speak Italian? No, I can't.