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.



Hello Elena,

You can certainly hear 'may' used in this way in modern British English, though 'can' is used much more commonly. It's difficult to predict how other people would react if you used 'may' to give or deny permission, but some people certainly could interpret your use of it as you thinking that you are in a hierarchically superior position to them (e.g. a strict teacher speaking to a student who is misbehaving). Depending on what the situation is in a business context, you might or might not want to communicate this hierarchy, but in the vast majority of contexts, I'd say using 'can' instead of 'may' is probably best.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot!

Thanks a lot Mr Kirk. I really appreciate your explanation . thanks again

I would like to understant this sentence please help me
- It is vital that she be warned before it is too late--- is it possible to put "be warned"??? is really confusing . PLEASE help me.THANKS

Hello aichoucha adkefi,

Yes, that is correct. It is a subjunctive form, which is used after phrases such as 'it is vital that ...' Another example is 'It is vital that she go home immediately.' Normally, she would take the form 'goes', but here the subjunctive form is used. In this case, the subjunctive = the bare infinitive of the verb.

I hope this helps clarify it a bit for you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

i wanted to ask if 'subjunctive' forms are still in use in modern English. I mean do I really need to study them?

Hello munish064,

The subjunctive is not as common as it used to be but is still in use, particularly in more formal contexts.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir Thanks for your reply

Hello may I know which tense comes after a modal verb past or present

Hello Lamastry,

Either the base form (also called 'the infinitive without to') or a perfect infinitive (have + past participle) is used after modal verbs.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team