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Modal verbs

Level: beginner

The modal verbs are: 



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




Hello ifencing,

Both sentences are fine.

'Have to' can be used with both meanings, so you could use 'have to' in the second sentence as well.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teachers. I made up The following sentence :The manager asked if someone of us would be provided To go morocco he would be awarded The raise money. I was wondering if It is proper. Thanks in advance.

Hi rosario70,

I'm afraid that's not grammatically correct. If I understand what you mean, then I would recommend something like: 'The manager asked if one of us was willing to go to Morocco. The person who goes will be given a raise'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am trying to explain to professional colleagues who are translating into Spanish the difference in the use of SHALL in the following two phrases:
"Any requirement shall be permitted to be modified..."
"..the stories in the building shall be determined as follows.."
The former being optional, given the use of the verb permit, vs. the latter which is a mandatory requirement. I have looked at modal verb entries, but not being a professional language teacher, I just don't know how to explain how the difference in the use of "shall" when it modifies the verb permit vs when it is used alone.
The colleague insists that the use of "shall" makes the modification a requirement, and ignores the verb "permitted".
This issue has to do with building codes.
Thank you for any help you may be able to offer.

Hello Patricia MacDougall,

In most cases, 'shall' and 'will' are interchangeable. However, when used in contracts there can be a difference. 'Will' refers simply to a future time, while 'shall' represents an obligation, requirement or duty.

The topic is discussed on this page, which I think will clarify it for you:



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the reference and your quick reply, Peter.
I see that in legal terms "shall" is complicated. It seems the case especially when translated. I had discovered various references to the "shall/must" argument and the link you have given me supports the ambiguity argument. Finally, with many examples in the same building code between "shall be permitted" vs "shall" I was able to convince the colleagues that the former is an optional provision, while the latter is an obligatory requirement.

Hi Patricia,
I fear you may have over-analysed this. The word 'shall' in both of your examples does indeed imply a mandatory requirement.
In the case of "shall be permitted", the 'shall' simply refers to the obligation that permission be granted (should it be requested).
There is no ambiguity in the value of the word itself, only a difference in context.
Buena suerte con los colegas.

Hi, I have a question. Would 'depending on' be considered a modal verb? As in 'I might go for a walk, depending on how the weather holds out'. Having trouble working out which grammatical category this fits into. Thanks.

Hello shani,

'Depending on' is a participle phrase, not a phrasal verb. The verb is 'depend' and it is often followed by a preposition ('depend on') but it can also be used by itself:

Our answer depends on the cost.

Are you going to buy it? It depends how much it costs.


You can see a list of common verbs which are followed by prepositions on this page.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

That's very helpful, thanks!