You are here

Modal verbs

Level: beginner

The modal verbs are: 

can
may
must
shall
will
could
might

should
would

We use modals to show if we believe something is certain, possible or impossible:

My keys must be in the car.
It might rain tomorrow.
That can't be Peter's coat. It's too small.

We also use them to do things like talk about ability, ask permission, and make requests and offers:

I can't swim.
May I ask a question?
Could I have some tea, please?
Would you like some help?

Modal verbs

MultipleChoice_MTYzNDI=

 

Comments

Hello. Could you please help me? Some English teacher are for "have to" but others are for "must". What do you thin?
- You (must - have to) get a licence if you want to drive a car.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both forms are possible here. It entirely depends on how the speaker sees the situation: more as a legal requirement or more as something a person should (morally, sensibly) choose to do.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good evening Teachers, i have a couple of questions for you:

1)
if i were to go on Holiday i would visit colorado spring next summer;
if i was gonna go on Holiday i would visit colorado spring next summer
I think they have different meanings , don't they?
2)
i was never gonna do that ; i should never have done that. here i guess they have the same meaning instead.

thanks in advance.

Hello!
1. 'gonna' is not formal written English. When you hear this word, people are shortening 'going to'. So you could use your first example, which is correct, OR, change your second example to: if I was going to go...

2. The same applies - i was never going to do that...

I hope this helps

Paul

Hello rosario70

The first two sentences you ask about mean pretty much the same thing, though the second one is very informal and the second is slightly more formal. 

There is a difference between the second pair of sentences you ask about. The first one doesn't make it clear whether you did the action or not -- it expresses the idea that you didn't have the intention of doing something, but doesn't state whether you actually did it or not. The second one makes it clear that you did carry out the action and that you regret it.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. I would like to ask if there can be a modal verb and "was" in the same sentence.

Hello Pana Elena,

Yes, you can. You could have them in separate clauses, for example. However, that does not mean that the examples you are thinking about are correct. Perhaps you could tell us the example(s) you have in mind, and we'll better understand what you are really asking about.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I'm Maria,
I would like to know why "ought to" isn't listed, and what is the difference between "should" and "ought to?
Thank you!

Hello mlherrera

Most grammars consider 'ought to' a 'semi-modal', that is, a verb that is in some ways like a modal and in other ways like a main verb. In the Cambridge Dictionary grammar, there is a good explanation of the difference between 'should' and 'ought to'.

Please let us know if you have any other specific questions.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Sir,

The rope was so strong that no one could break it or no one was able to break it.
These last two sentences mean that everyone tried to break the rope but no one succeeded.

But does this sentence 'No one could have broken it' mean anything different ?

And what does it mean "I don't think anyone could have done it" ?

Pages