Modal verbs


The modal verbs are:

can could
may might
shall should
will would

We use modal verbs to show if we believe something is certain, probable or possible (or not). We also use modals to do things like talking about ability, asking permission making requests and offers, and so on.



Can you help me to know when exactly I have to use Might or could? Is the only reason to use Might the wish to be more polite or there are other reasons to use Might instead of Could and vice versa?
Thank you very much

Hey, is it right to use "Could it happen?" to ask if something can happen in the future?


Hello kazekagesama01,

Yes, 'Could it happen?' can be used to ask if it is possible for something to happen in the present or in the future. This is explained on the certain, probably or possible page, which I suggest you read to see some other examples.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


I have a doubt: for requests in formal order of polite, I use can, could, may and might?


Hello Glauci,

You can find information on requests on this page.  You can find an exercise on requests and offers on this page [offers and requests are often put together].

Remember that making requests is a functional use of the language rather than a grammatical system. There are many ways of making requests, some of them purely reliant on intonation.  For example, the sentence 'It's hot' could be a statement of fact, an exclamation of surprise, a question or a request for a drink, depending on the context and the intonation used.

Intonation is also key to politeness.  The same sentence can be polite or rude, depending on how it is said.  For this reason, it is very difficult to say which modals, for example, are more or less polite.  All of them can be used politely if the intonation is appropriate.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team 

could someone tell me the we can use can,could,may and would for request. Then what is the difference in the uses of these for requesting. Please explain with nice examples.

Hello Yadraj,

Our grammar pages have explanations of the various uses of the different modal verbs. Please take a look at them - for example, ability, permission, requests and advice. There you will find both explanations and examples. After you've done that, you're welcome to ask us questions that aren't already answered there.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
Could you tell me difference between the following sentences.
1. You must not speak when the teacher is speaking.
2 you have not to speak when the teacher is speaking.
Are these sentences meaning same? I think in both sentences obligations have come.

Hi akhi,

I'm afraid that sentence 2 is not correct in standard English. must not can be used to indicate a prohibition, but have to in the negative (don't have to) only indicates the lack of necessity (not prohibition).

You mustn't speak (= it is prohibited to speak)
You don't have to speak (= it is not necessary to speak)

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I'm glad to join you and I've read all the answers about the modals before to ask that but I still have a doubt. I'm studying Present perfect and I want to know if it's possible to use 'might' meaning 'could'. For instance, what's the difference between the following sentences:
1. It might have done.
2. It could have done.