We use modal verbs for:
|can||to express ability||I can speak a little English.|
|can||to request permission||Can I have a drink of water, please?|
|may||to express possibility||I may miss the train.|
|May||to request permission||May I wash my hands, please?|
|May||To express possibility||He may win the race at this rate.|
|must||to express obligation||I must study more.|
|must||to express strong belief||She must be very wealthy.|
|should||to give advice||You should do more exercise.|
|would||to request or offer||Would you like a cup of tea?|
|would||in if-sentences||If I were you, I would take a break.|
|could||To express past ability||I could swim when I was 6 years old.|
|could||To express possibility||It could be a good idea.|
|Might||To express possibility||It might help you find a job.|
There are two types of modal verb:
- BARE INFINITIVE. We normally use the bare infinitive (verb without to) after the modal. For instance: I should study more. I can play the flute-
- FULL INFINITIVE. We sometimes use the mull infinitive. For example: I ought to go.
Modal verbs are very easy to use and they are used as the aixiliary in a question, like:
Can you show me the way to the beach?
Must we do all the exercises for homework?
It is important to understand that there are similar expressions that are synonyms or have a very similar meaning to some modal verbs.
Can (ability) = be able to, be capable of, know how to
May (permission) = be permitted, be allowed, let, be ok, might, could, be able to,
Must (obligation) = be required, be essential, have to
CAN´T (prohibition) = mustn´t, be forbidden, be prohibited, be against the rules / not be able to etc.
Should (advice) = be advisable, be recommended, be a good idea, ought to. had better
NEEDN´T (lack of necessity) = not have to, not need to, not be necessary
For extra practice with modal verbs, click HERE