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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

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Comments

Hello Ahmed Imam,

I think have to is the most likely choice here as the question is about an external rule rather than a self-imposed obligation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team I have questions,
1-"Tina gave me a shopping list so that I wouldn't forget anything."
In this sentence, can we say
" ...so that I didn't forget anything."? what's the difference 2 of them?

Hi Nuro,

Both forms are possible here. If you imagine what Tina said then both don't forget and won't forget are possible:

I'll give you a shopping list so you won't forget anything.

I'll give you a shopping list so you don't forget anything.

It may seem strange to use the present simple (don't forget) with future meaning here, especially when 'will' is used in the first clause, but there are certain contexts in which this is possible: in sentences like the one above and after the phrase 'in case', for example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks teacher,
I have been thinking this strange situation that you mentioned for 4 days.
I mean why we use simple present or modals instead of will to future events?Can you explain more detail? I am soo confused:(

Hello again Nuro,

It's actually a common feature of English. Remember that English does not have a grammatical future tense, but rather uses different grammatical structures to express future time: present forms (simple and continuous), modal verbs (including 'will'), going to and even past forms (for hypothetical futures).

 

You can read more about expressing future time on this page:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/talking-about-the-future

 

And you can read about verbs used in time clauses here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/verbs-in-time-clauses-and-if-clauses

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Can we use "hasn't got to" instead of "doesn't have to" to express lack of necessity? Also, in questions, can we use "has she got to" instead of "Does she have to"? Is the following sentence correct?
- She hasn't got to do all this work today because she can do it next morning.
Thank you

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Yes! It is possible to use hasn't got to for this meaning, and your sentence is correct. But, hasn't got to is less commonly used than doesn't have to.

In questions, that's right - we can use Has she got to ... instead of Does she have to ... .

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! I have a question, what happens with : make ( obligation) and must or musn't ( obligation) are the same?

thanks!

Hello meylin,

They're similar but a bit different. You can read a bit more about 'must' and 'mustn't' in the Obligations section of our Suggestions and obligations page, but basically they express the idea that it is necessary to do something ('must', e.g. 'You must wear a mask on the bus') or that it is necessary not to do something ('mustn't', e.g. 'You mustn't be late'). Notice that it's not clear whether we actually do the action that is considered necessary (or not necessary) -- the rule is that we wear a mask on the bus, but maybe we don't actually do that.

A sentence with causative 'make' is similar in that it expresses obligation, but it also shows that the action was performed. For example, 'I must do my homework' means I need to do my homework, but it doesn't mean that I did it. But 'My father makes me do my homework' clearly shows that I do my homework.

Does that help?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello
I have a question.
"Luke could/was able to read when he was only three years old"
Which one of them is true?
Thanks for helping

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