Modal Verbs and How to Use Them


Modal verbs and how to use them. Can, could, may, might, must, will, would, shall, should, ought to. past modals, conditional modals.

What are Modal Verbs?
Modal verbs are auxiliary (helping) verbs and don’t need an additional auxiliary verb in negatives or questions.

Modal verbs are different from other verbs.

  1. Modal verbs don’t change their form (spelling).
  2. Modal verbs don’t use an “S” for third person singular.
  3. Modal verbs have no infinitive or participle (either past or present).
  4. Modal verbs make questions by inversion (“He can go” becomes “Can he go?”).
  5. Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb without “to.”

Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as possibility, intention, obligation, and necessity.

Modal Verbs Include:

  • Can: to express ability; to request permission.
  • Could: to express ability.
  • May: to express possibility; to request permission.
  • Might: to express possibility.
  • Must: to express obligation or advice; to express strong belief
  • Will: to talk about habits or things we usually do.
  • Would: to talk about habits or things we did in the past; to request or offer; in “if” sentences.
  • Shall: to talk about habits or things we usually do; often viewed as being more formal than will.
  • Should: to express obligation or advice.
  • Ought to: to express obligation or advice.

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