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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. Which modal is correct to use in the following sentence?

- He will help you if you ask him, but I am not sure.
- He might help you if you ask him, but I am not sure.

Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Might is the correct option. Might means there is some uncertainty about whether he will help you or not, and we know that the speaker is uncertain since he/she says 'I am not sure'. 

Will doesn't fit here, because it means the speaker is certain.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Which modal is correct and formal in the following sentence?
1- You have to phone him now. It’s very urgent.
2- You must phone him now. It’s very urgent.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both sentences look fine to me and I don't see any difference in formality. Without any context there's no way to say which would be more suitable.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher Peter,
I have 2 questions about in this sentence.
"Donations to charities can be offset against tax."
1)Could we add agent(like by sth.)?Could you give an example

2)Here,can we say directly "Donations to charities can offset against tax."
If so,why we don't say in active voice obviously ?

Hi Nuro,

1) Yes, you could add a phrase with by to the sentence:

Donations to charities can be offset against tax by both private individuals and companies.

2) Active voice does not work here as the donations are the object of the verb offset. The person paying tax offsets the donations.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Please, could you tell me which modal is suitable in the following sentence. Why?
- Do you know if we have to have a visa to visit North Korea?
- Do you know if we must have a visa to visit North Korea?
Thanks for your great efforts.

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

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