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.
 

Comments

Hello chandini,

"What you mean?" is not correct in standard English - the correct form is "What do you mean?" The formation of such questions is explained on our present simple page.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
               Could you please tell us or enlist the Semi modals ? I have read somewhere that Semi-auxiliaries include be about to, be able to, be going to, be likely to, be supposed to, had better, have to, ought to, used to and would rather. Is it correct ? Thank you so much in advance, Sir.
With Regards,
Sam 

Hi Sumeet,

This is an interesting question, but I'm afraid it falls outside the scope of what we do at LearnEnglish. We are principally concerned with helping members make the best use they can of our site. In addition, your request is very broad. We do our best to answer questions about specific points, but we are a very small team answering questions from millions of users - we simply don't have the time to provide lessons on demand.

You can find information on this topic by doing an internet search - one good place to start might be the wikipedia page on modal verbs.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir, 
               First of all I would like to express my gratitude to you all and to British Council who have been doing a great favor to all the English learners. Thanks a lot.
Could you please tell us the difference between Probability and Possibility with some examples? Thank you so much in advance.

Hello Sumeet,

You can find the difference by using the Cambridge Dictionaries Online tool:

Possibility: a chance that something may happen or be true

Probability: the level of possibility of something happening or being true

In other words, if something is possible then there is a chance of it happening, but it is not certain.  When we talk about probability, we are also say how likely it is - very likely, quite likely, unlikely etc.

You can find examples of both probability and possibility on this page.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
               This is Sumeet. I have got some questions related to Modals. How can we distinguish the usage of can and be able to? Is the present / past continuous of be able to is grammatically correct and formal?
Are you being able to comprehend what is being taught to you? 
Is it grammatically correct ? Thank you so much, Sir. 
With regards,
Sumeet

Hello Sumeet,

Both of these can be used to talk about ability, but 'can' has other uses as well (see here for more information).  When talking about ability in the present, the two are largely interchangeable, though 'can' is more common and 'be able to' a little more formal.  There are some differences between the two when we talk about future and past meaning, however:

If we do not have the ability now but will have it in the future then we use 'be able to':

I will be able to swim after I finish my lessons. [I do not know how to swim now, but am learning OR I know how to swim but am busy with lessons now]

The future meaning of 'can' is more limited:

I can swim after I finish my lessons. [I know how to swim but am busy with lessons now]

In the past, we can use both 'be able to' and 'could' (the past form of 'can') to talk about general ability:

When I was young I could ski really well.

When I was young I was able to ski really well.

However, when we talk about single events in the past we use 'be able to':

One Christmas I was able to beat my brother in a race! [NOT '...I could beat...']

However, we can use the negative forms 'not be able to' and 'couldn't' for both general ability and single events in the past:

When I was young I couldn't ski very well.

When I was young I wasn't able to ski very well.

One Christmas my brother couldn't beat me!

One Christmas my brother wasn't able to beat me!

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
                 My name is Sumeet. I have come across the following patterns in which WOULD RATHER can be used. Are they grammatically correct, Sir?
Would  rather + simple past … (TO REFER TO THE PRESENT/ FUTURE)
Would rather + past perfect … (TO REFER TO THE PAST )
Regards and Thanks
Sumeet

Hi Sumeet,

Yes, those patterns are correct, though it's important to note that the subject of would rather and the subject of the second verb are different people, e.g.:

I would rather you didn't tell him my phone number.
I'd rather you hadn't told him my phone number.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

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