What are Modals?




What are Modals? Modals are one part of auxiliary verb type (Auxiliary verb). Modals are the verbs include can, must, may, might, will, would, should. These words are used with other verbs to express capabilities, obligations, possibilities, and so on. Here is a list that shows the most useful modals and its most common meaning:

ModalMeaningExample
canto express abilitycan speak a little Russian.
canto request permissionCan I open the window?
mayto express possibilitymay be home late.
mayto request permissionMay I sit down, please?
mustto express obligationmust go now.
mustto express strong beliefShe must be over 90 years old.
shouldto give adviceYou should stop smoking.
wouldto request or offerWould you like a cup of tea?
wouldin if-sentencesIf I were you, I would say sorry.


Verb modal is not like other verbs. They do not change their form (spelling) and they have no infinitive or participle (past / present). Shape Capital must and can require substitute verbs to express obligations or abilities in different tenses.

Past simpleSorry I'm late. I had to finish my math test.
Present perfectShe's had to return to Korea at short notice.
FutureYou'll have to work hard if you want to pass the exams.
InfinitiveI don't want to have to go.
Past simpleI couldn't/wasn't able to walk until I was 3 years old.
Present perfectI haven't been able to solve this problem. Can you help?
FutureI'm not sure if I will be able to come to your party.
InfinitiveI would love to be able to play the piano.





Modals are auxiliary verbs. They do not require additional extras in terms of negatives or questions. For example: Must I come? (Do not have to smoke), or: He should not smoke. Important: The explanations and examples on this page are just an introduction to this vast and complex English grammar. English students who wish to learn more should consult a good reference work, such as Swan's Practical English Usage. We use verb modals to show whether we believe there is something definite, probable or possible (or not). We also use the capital to do things like talk about ability, ask permission to make requests and offers, and so on.
 
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