Modal verbs
Modal verbs

 

Modal verbs

with this table, you will be able to understand the different functions Modal verbs have . Example and substituting verbs and expressions are also given

Modal Verb   Function Substituting verb
can could •‎ Ability – John can speak English, but he can’t speak Spanish.‎
‎•‎ Ability (in the past) – My mother could swim when she was younger.‎
‎•‎ Possibility – I can learn English.‎
‎•‎ Permission – Can I go out please?‎
‎•‎ Offer – Can I help you, madam? ‎
‎•‎ Request – Could you bring me a cup of tea, please?‎
‎•‎ To be able to
‎•‎ To be capable of
‎•‎ To be (im)possible to
‎•‎ To be allowed to
May Might ‎•‎ Permission (politeness) – May I open the window, please?‎
‎•‎ Possibility – The chauffeur may be in the car.‎
‎ Susan may not come tomorrow.‎
‎ You might participate in the contest.‎
‎•‎ Probability – It might rain.‎
‎•‎ To be allowed to
‎•‎ To be likely to
‎•‎ To be probable to
‎•‎ Perhaps… will
Will Would ‎•‎ Requests (more polite) – Would you mind closing the door? ‎
‎•‎ Determination/intention – I will pass the exam.‎
‎•‎ To want
‎•‎ To desire
‎•‎ To be determined to
Shall ‎ Should ‎•‎ Offer – Shall I open the door for you?‎
‎•‎ Suggestion – Shall we go to the cinema?‎
‎•‎ Advice – You should eat more vegetables.‎
‎•‎ Do you want…?‎
‎•‎ Let’s
‎•‎ To have to (morally)‎
‎•‎ To be the (moral) duty
‎•‎ ‎… Would better…‎
Must/‎Have to ‎ Had to ‎•‎ Obligation/duty – You must do your homework, whether you want to ‎or not.‎
‎•‎ Deduction – He has a great car. He must earn a lot of money.‎
‎•‎ Necessity – You must go to the doctor if you can’t see well.‎
‎•‎ To have to
‎•‎ To be obliged to
‎•‎ To have the obligation
‎•‎ To be certain
Mustn’t ‎•‎ Prohibition – You mustn’t cross the road when the red light is on.‎ ‎•‎ To be forbidden
‎•‎ To be prohibited to
Ought to ‎•‎ Recommendation/moral obligation – You ought to study more.‎ ‎•‎ To have to
Need/Needn’t‎ ‎•‎ ‎(Absence of) obligation/necessity – You needn’t run. It’s still early.‎ ‎•‎ To be necessary
‎•‎ Don’t need to
‎•‎ Don’t have to
Dare ‎ ‎•‎ Audacity or lack of it – How dare you?/He daren’t look at me.‎ ‎•‎ To have the courage to

 

 

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