The General pattern of Modal Auxiliaries in a sentence is

 S + Modal Auxiliaries + V1 + C

1.         WILL

The uses of  WILL :

1.1.     in future tenses. (see Tenses)

1.2.     to express a REQUEST :

e.g.     A      :     Hey…  what’s  the matter with you?  Not feeling well, huh?

B       :     Will you get me some aspirin?

A      :     Sure. Here it is. Get some sleep for a moment then.

B       :     Thanks.

1.3.     to express a PROMISE (with first person)

e.g.     A      :     Don’t you remember that today is father’s birthday ?

B       :     Of course, I do.

A      :     So don’t forget to go home earlier!

B       :     I will.

1.4.     to express THREAT (with first person)

e.g.     A      :     I need some points in these three lessons in order to be promoted.

B       :     What do you want from me?

A      :     Let me know your answers in the final test.

B       :     But …

A      :     I will tell your shameful secret to everyone and send you away from my club.

Another  form of  WILL is BE GOING TO. It is used when we need two modal verbs in our sentence.

e.g.     They may be going to find the other facts. (NOT :  They  may will find the other facts)

He must be going to observe it in his laboratory.

BE GOING TO is used in future tense also. ( see TENSES )

2.         WOULD 

The uses of WOULD

2.1.     in past future tenses ( see TENSES )

2.2.     to express an INVITATION or OFFER

e.g.     A      :     Hey… what are you up to these days?

B       :     Just fine. And you?

A      :     Nothing to complain of. Would you join us? We have a small party to celebrate my graduate.

B       :     I wish  I could but I have something to  do  here. Oh .. congratulation, anyway!

A      :     Thanks.

2.3.     to express a REQUEST ( more polite than WILL ) :

e.g.     A      :     Would you look after my pets?  We will be out of the town for two days.

B       :     I will.

A      :     Sorry to trouble you.

B       :     Don’t worry.

The other forms of polite request  are :

– Would  you like to look after my pets?

– Would  you mind looking after my pets?

– Would  you care to look after my pets?

* WOULD  LIKE  =  WANT in these cases :

e.g.     I  would like to see some more ( more polite )  =  I want  to see some more

Would you like to speak to him?  =  Do you want to speak  to him?

* But see this comparison :

A      :     Would you like to have some tea with us? ( an invitation or offer )

B       :     Thank you. I’d love to.

A      :     Do you want to have some tea? ( a usual question )

B       :     Yes, I do / No, I don’t

* WOULD RATHER / SOONER ( to show preference )

e.g.     He  would  rather  stay here than go with you  =  He  prefers staying here to going with you.

He would rather eat some sea food than chicken =  He  prefers some sea food to chicken.

3.        SHALL

The uses of  SHALL :

3.1.     The same as WILL, it is used in future tense (see TENSES)

3.2.     to express a REQUEST FOR ADVICE OR ORDER

e.g.     A      :     Shall  I  apologize for  not calling  her  up  last night?

B       :     Why not?

A      :     But I doubt that she won’t accept it.

B       :     You haven’t tried it, have you?

3.3.     to express an OFFER

e.g.     A      :     Sorry that I make you wait for some minutes.

B       :     Never mind.

A      :     It is the busiest day. There’s so much work  I have to finish.

B       :     Shall I help you go over these reports ?

A      :     I appreciate your help, anyway, but I’ll manage it by myself.

3.4.     to express a SUGGESTION

e.g.     A      :     There is a speech contest  held  by the students from English department.

B       :     Then, what?

A      :     Shall we take advantage of this chance ?

B       :     Sounds great !

4.         SHOULD

The uses of SHOULD :

4.1.     It can replace SHALL in offer, suggestion and request for advice or order.

4.2.     to give advice / to say what we think it right or good for others to do

e.g.     A      :     You shouldn’t depend on him.

B       :     But he promised to come and help me. Do you  think he will keep his word ?

A      :     I am not sure. I know him for a long time, as I told you. He’s not a good guy.

4.3.     SHOULD with WHY and HOW :


e.g.     How should those birds be able to understand the trainer’s command?

Why should he fire the most faithful employee?

4.3.2. to express IRRITATION or ANGER

e.g.     A      :     Finish it now !

B       :     Why should I ? You have no right to order me !


A      :     What are they talking about ?

B       :     How  should I know it ? It’s not  my  business and yours, too.

5.         OUGHT TO

Its use is the same as SHOULD no. 2

6.         MAY

The uses of  MAY :

6.1.     to express PERMISSION :

6.1.1. to give permission ( affirmative )

e.g.     A      :     Why do you ask for a dog to that man?

B       :     I will take care of it.

A      :     Do your parents permit you?

B       :     Yes, I may keep a pet in my house if I promise to take care of it myself.

6.1.2. to ask for permission ( interrogative )

e.g.     A      :     Excuse me Sir, may I interrupt ?

B       :     Yes, come in.

A       :     Someone urges to meet you though I have told that you are having an important meeting.

B       :     Ask him to get in!

6.1.3. to refuse permission / PROHIBITION ( negative )

e.g.     In the school laboratory,

A      :     We will use some chemical substances which cause our skin burnt if they touch it. So, you may not make a joke here. Don’t forget to use the gloves.

B       :     Yes, Sir !

* In  past and perfect tenses we usually use BE ALLOWED TO but  in indirect speech we can use MIGHT.

e.g.     I was allowed to keep a pet when I was a child.  (=  My parents allowed me / gave me permission to keep…)

They have been allowed to use their rights in this election.

She said,” He may have three days off “.

She said that he might have three days off.

BE  ALLOWED  TO is also used if we want to use two modal verbs  in  our sentence.

e.g.     You  will  be  allowed to leave early  if  everything  is finished. ( NOT : You will may leave …)

The journalists must be allowed to cover up this trial.

6.2.     to  express  POSSIBILITY   (in future or present  and  used  in positive and negative only) :

e.g.     A      :     Look at the two young men standing by the pool!

B       :     What’s wrong?

A      :     They may be the members of FBI.

B       :     How do you know ?

A      :     I often see them where our boss is.

6.3.     to express FAITH or HOPE

e.g.     A      :     Listen ! I have got the promotion!!

B       :     Really? Tell me.

A      :     When I gave my last proposal this morning,  Mr. T told that I should move to the room next to his.

B       :     Oh … I’m glad to hear that. May the great success come to your life! Congratulation!

A      :     Thank you.

7.         MIGHT

The uses of  MIGHT :

7.1.     as past form of MAY used in indirect speech. (see MAY)

7.2.     to express POSSIBILITY (smaller than MAY)

e.g.     A      :     They aren’t familiar to one another, so it might  be easy for them to work in group.

B       :     I don’t think so. Children are always able to adapt to their new environment and friends.


A      :     As those new employees have just graduated, they might be able to handle this unit well.

B       :     I agree with you. They don’t have  enough  experience.

8.         CAN

The uses of  CAN :

8.1.     to express ABILITY (in present or future)

e.g.     A      :     Hey  …  can  you slow down this car  ?  It’s  too slippery.

B       :     Don’t worry,  I  can control it  well.  Don’t you remember that I am the best motorist ?

A      :     Don’t be so proud of yourself.

* BE ABLE TO is another form of CAN. We use it when there are two modals in our sentence.

e.g.     Don’t  worry,  the thief  won’t be able to break  up  this box. ( NOT : the thief won’t can break up …)

My mechanic may be able to fix it. ( NOT :  my mechanic  may can fix it )

Every student should be able to think critically. (  NOT  : every student should can think …)

He must be able to solve it by himself. ( NOT :  he must can solve …)

* BE ABLE TO is also used in PAST and PERFECT tenses.

e.g.     She has been able to calm down those people.

He was able to improve his ability by himself.

8.2.     to express POSSIBILITY ( affirmative only ). It is  different from possibility expressed by MAY.

8.2.1. it means that it is possible if circumstances permit.

e.g.     A      :     I wish that he isn’t late. If he misses the interview, he will lose his chance to get what he is eager to reach.

B       :     I think he can get there in about two hours because the bypass has been opened. So, he will have 30 minutes to prepare himself.

8.2.2. theoretically it is possible.

e.g.     A      :     Please, decrease the temperature quickly! It’s more than normal.

B       :     Why?

A      :     The pipe can burst out if it is overheated

8.2.3. to give information about the characteristics of persons or things.

e.g.     A   :     What do you think about her?

B    :     Why do you ask me?

A   :     You are her cousin, aren’t you?

B    :     As far as I know, she is a sensitive girl. She  can keep herself away from anyone who hurts her, even her boyfriend, for a long time.

8.3.     to  express PERMISSION (in affirmative or question  only  and less formal than MAY)

e.g.     A   :     Can I have some more?   (ask for permission)

B    :     Hey … you are on a diet, aren’t you?

A   :     Not in such situation.

B    :     Hm … that’s why you never lose your weight.


A   :     Listen! I have got good news for us. We can collect our assignment next week.  ( the speaker doesn’t have an authority to give permission)

B    :     How do you know?

A   :     The teacher called me this morning and told that there would be a meeting tomorrow , so the discussion would be cancelled.

8.4.    to express an OFFER

8.4.1. in positive

e.g.     A   :     You look so confused.

B    :     It will be my turn to answer after her but I haven’t got the answer yet.

A   :     You can use my work

B    :     No, thank you. The teacher will know that it is yours.

8.4.2.    in question

e.g.     A   :     How about the preparation?

B    :     I don’t  think that we can finish  it  today.  We still have to contact Mr. D for accommodation.

A   :     Can I call at his office on the way to my house?  I will ring you before dinner.

B    :     That’s  nice of you. Thank you.

A   :     Don’t mention it.

8.5.     to express a REQUEST (less formal than WOULD)

e.g.     A   :     I  am  still confused about this  point.  Can  you explain it to me?

B    :     Sure,  but I can’t do it right now because I  will have a test. How about in the afternoon?

A   :     In your house ?

B    :     Of course, what’s the matter?

A   :     Oh  ..  I  am just afraid that some  one  will  be jealous.

B    :     Don’t be worried, I have no special one.


9.         COULD    

the uses of  COULD :

9.1.     to express PAST ABILITY (= WAS/WERE ABLE TO)

e.g.     A   :     Have you visited him?

B    :     Not yet. How is he?

A   :     He is getting better physically, but it seems  that he  loses his memories. He could /was able to mention  the  formulae  of  solutions  accurately  and spontaneously, but now he has to think hard to find them.


e.g.     A   :     Do  you  remember what we always did in  this  park when we were children?

B    :     Yes,  we  could come here every afternoon  to  play with our friends.

A   :     But now, look at the sign! We can’t even enter it.

9.3.     to express POSSIBILITY :

9.3.1. For affirmative or interrogative sentence, it is the  same as MAY / MIGHT.

e.g.     Would you open the door?  It could / may / might  be your friend.

9.3.2. there is a difference between MAY and COULD in negative.

e.g.     He couldn’t have an answer. (It is impossible  that he has an answer )

He may not have an answer. ( perhaps he doesn’t have an answer )

9.3.3. COULDN’T ( or CAN’T ) can be used for NEGATIVE CONCLUSION / CERTAINTY  ( contrasted to MUST ).

e.g.     A   :     She never comes late.

B    :     She may forget it.

A   :     I don’t think so, I know her. She always keeps her word.  She couldn’t / can’t have someone  to  take her. I’ll phone her for sure.

9.4.     COULD YOU … ? can also be used for introducing a request as an alternative to WOULD YOU…?

e.g.     Would you / could you do me a favor ?

10.       MUST, HAVE TO  and  NEED

The uses of MUST :

10.1.   To express obligation :

Future must

will have to

need not

won’t need to

must not

won’t have to

Present must

have to

need not

don’t need to

must not

don’t have to

Past had to didn’t have to didn’t need to

10.1.1.In  affirmative,  MUST is used in present and  future.  For other  tenses, we use HAVE TO although it can also be  used in present and future (with WILL).

See  the difference between MUST and HAVE TO in present  or future :

e.g.     A  MOTHER  to HER SON : “ When you are thirteen next month , your own room will have been finished  so you must do  your  room yourself . Besides, you have been grown up. Be responsible to yourself “.  (internal obligation or the speaker’s obligation)

A MOTHER to HER SON : “ You will have to do your room when  you  have been in college dormitory as the rule says. You can’t pay someone for it .” (external obligation or the rule of the dormitory)

* In the first person, HAVE TO  is used for habits while MUST for an important or urgent obligation.

e.g.     A      :     Why are you in a hurry?

B       :     Ditto hasn’t come yet. I must call him up to tell that they will arrive in 15 minutes. He is the MC.


A      :     What time is it?

B       :     19.45

A      :     Oh… my GOD, I have to tell my parents that I will be late for dinner.

B       :     Do you have to do it?

A      :     Yes, every member of my family will do it. It’s our habit whenever we will go home late in order that they aren’t worried about us.


10.1.2.   NEED  can  be treated as an auxiliary and  used  mainly  in negative and interrogative. It has no past form, and usually used for present or future. ( see the table above )

e.g.     A      :  You  needn’t  do it in a hurry. I have  put  off  the meeting till next week. ( The speaker has an authority  to state that an action is unnecessary )

B       :     Yes, Sir!


A      :     Can I borrow your dictionary?

B       :     What for ?

A      :     to finish the vocabulary task ! Do you forget about it?

B       :     Are you daydreaming ?  Don’t you remember that it’s always collected at the end of a month?  We still have much time. You don’t have to /  don’t need to do it now.  ( for habit or negative external obligation )


A  :  You  must  not do it in a hurry because  if  you  are careless  and  make  a  mistake,   it will  explode.  (negative internal obligation / prohibition )

B  :   but we have limited time, Sir!

A  :   Don’t worry, I will ask Mr. D to help you! Our success depends on you, so do be careful !

10.1.3.   There  are  some possible answers  in  interrogative  using MUST,

Shall I have to? Yes, you will No, you won’t
Does he have to go? Yes, he does No, he doesn’t
Need I go? Yes, you must No, you needn’t
Must I go? Yes, you must No, you needn’t

e.g.     A   :     You must supply them with the correct information.

B    :     Must I supply them with the data too?

A   :     No, you needn’t.

B    :     The  correct information usually includes the  correct data, doesn’t it?

A   :     Yes, but not in this case. You  should  understand that  sometimes  we  don’t have  to  give  anything clearly to anyone who wants to know about us.


10.2.   to express a POSITIVE CONCLUSION / CERTAINTY :

e.g.     A   :     Look, it seems that there is no vacant seat for the three of us.

B    :     I  don’t  think so, because Mr. D told me  that  he still had 30 % of the tickets left.

A   :     So, there must be some seats vacant in the front.


* See the difference between MUST and MAY or MIGHT :

A   :     What should I give her? She refused all I gave  to her.

B    :     Give the food which is cooked by yourself. She may accept it because she likes your cooking.

A   :     I have, but still she doesn’t touch it.

B    :     (thinks for a moment) Ha … it must work out.

A   :     What’s in your mind ?

B    :     You  don’t need to give it yourself. Let  her  boyfriend do it.

A   :     You are a smart man.


11.       DARE


As an auxiliary, it is usual in negative or question form.

Negative present / past                He does not dare /  dares not

He did not dare / dared not


Interrogative present / past        Does he dare? / Dare he?

Did he dare? / Dared he?


e.g.     He doesn’t dare (to) say anything after that quarrel.

He dares not (to) say anything after that quarrel.


Did he dare interrupt them?

Dared he interrupt them?



expresses indignation or anger.


e.g.     How  dare you open my letter without my permission  ?  (= I’m angry with you for opening it)

How dared he make  a fool  of  her in front of the  audience last night ? ( = I was really indignant of his behavior )




110 thoughts on “MODAL VERBS”

  1. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads.
    I’m hoping to give a contribution & assist other customers like its aided me.
    Good job.

  2. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same topics you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information. I
    know my subscribers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel
    free to send me an email.

  3. Attractive component to content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to say that I get actually loved account your
    blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing in your feeds
    and even I achievement you get admission to consistently
    quickly. adreamoftrains web host

  4. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It if truth
    be told used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance advanced to far introduced agreeable from you!
    However, how can we keep in touch?

  5. Great beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your site,
    how can i subscribe for a weblog website?
    The account aided me a appropriate deal. I were a little bit familiar
    of this your broadcast offered brilliant transparent idea

  6. Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers
    and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the
    direction of a good platform.

  7. CBD or Cannabidiol is a substance drawn out from the
    cannabis plant, which has some remarkable medical homes.
    Scientific research studies have revealed that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, with the prospective to lower the
    risk of heart diseases, epilepsy and also arthritis.
    This amazing substance has triggered much conversation concerning its prospective usage as
    an efficient therapy for clinical depression as
    well as anxiousness, specifically in kids. CBD
    is thought to have impressive anti-psychotic and sedative results, however there are some questionable insurance claims.
    Lots of think that CBD might be helpful for some individuals,
    but its not ideal for every person; it must just be made use of under
    the recommendations of a wellness professional.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site: cbd oil near me

  8. Today, there is a huge demand for goods containing cbd oil for cats.
    The main reason behind this need is due to the fact that a number of people have become
    aware that cats could be treated with the benefits of having this type of oil.
    When given the appropriate dose of this oil, it can help to ease a number
    of ailments and symptoms in cats. Unfortunately, there is currently no FDA
    approved remedy for this illness. But, there are a number of products available on the market which were
    proven to work.
    If not, then why don’t you find out more about it. We will have a look at why this
    natural supplement has been considered as a
    potential remedy for our feline friend’s health problems. When you are done reading this article, I am certain you will know whether it should be included
    as a member of your kitty’s medical regimen. Fantastic luck.

  9. Cannabidiol, or CBD as it is understood in the medical world, is an important ingredient in lots of natural supplements and cancer cells fighting drugs.
    It has been shown to lessen the indications of the adverse effects
    of chemotherapy in both pets and also humans.

    While it is not yet authorized by the FDA as a prescription medication, it is still
    being studied for prospective medical usages.
    So what is CBD oil and why is it so unique? In this short article we will certainly take a better take a
    look at the benefits of CBD oil as well as where to
    buy it from.

    Feel free to visit my web page :: best CBD oil in UK

  10. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve
    tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

  11. Hey I am so delighted I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Digg for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the awesome jo.|

  12. scoliosis
    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this
    web site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back
    again to read more, thanks for the information! scoliosis

  13. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some
    time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.

    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy
    reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  14. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new
    to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and
    I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  15. You can definitely see your expertise within the work you write.

    The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say
    how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  16. Pingback: plaquenil 875 mg
  17. This design is wicked! You most certainly know how
    to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.

    Too cool!

    Feel free to surf to my homepage … 토토커뮤니티

  18. Pingback: ivermectin amazon
  19. Pingback: durvet ivermectin
  20. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and
    thought I should check things out. I like what
    I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking over your web page yet

  21. Pingback: Anonymous
  22. Pingback: Anonymous
  23. Pingback: ivermectine
  24. Pingback: sildenafil cost
  25. Pingback: merck ivermectin
  26. Pingback: get ivermectin
  27. Pingback: furosemide 160 mg
  28. Pingback: ivermectin india
  29. Pingback: stromectol nz
  30. Pingback: stromectol otc
  31. Pingback: ivermectin 2
  32. Pingback: stromectol buy uk
  33. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who was
    doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him…

    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this issue here on your site.

  34. Thank you for any other fantastic article. The place else could anybody get that type of info
    in such a perfect approach of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for
    such information.

  35. Its such as you read my mind! You seem to know so much about
    this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that
    you simply can do with some percent to pressure the message
    home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog.
    A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *