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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

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

Hello Mosikvd,

Both forms are possible here and there is no difference in meaning in this context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What are the "have to,has to,had to,ought to,be able to ,need,needn't, dare etc are called in grammar? Are they semi-modals?

Hello Noor Muhammad,

The principal modal auxiliary verbs in English are can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would. They are sometimes called full modals as they have all of the characteristics of modal verbs in terms of meaning (expressing modality) and form (they have no inflection, no infinitive form, no participle form, are negated by the addition of 'not' and form questions by inversion rather than with another auxiliary verb).

The verbs you mention, plus others such as had better, are characterised by having some of the elements of full modal but not all of them. Thus, they may express modality but have inflections in the third person present simple, for example (you need > he needs). These are sometimes called semi-modals, quasi-modals or pseudo-modals.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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