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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

Dear teachers:
Could you help me....l'm really don't know about tenses,,,there we use only 16 tenses,,,,and in the internet l saw 26 tenses in english language.....!How many tanses have in english?
with refards
mirazh!
 

Hello MIRAZH,

This is a question which provokes a lot of discussion!  The consensus today is that English has two tenses - present and past.  This is because tenses are defined in linguistics as inflectional changes in the form of the verb (changes in the verb itself, not just adding auxiliary verbs) which show time and in English there are only two such forms.  Other verb forms (such as continuous and perfective aspects or passive voice), are made by adding extra words, such as auxiliary verbs, or by using other words (phrases like 'going to', for example, or modal verbs like 'will').

I hope that answers your question.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Teachers,
I am interested to know about the usage of 'would be'.
What it is used for?
Sometimes people say : ' It would be fun' or 'It would be difficult'. They might be talking in present here or future . But I think the sentence refers to the past as 'would' is the past form of 'will'. Could you please clarify it and provide some explanation for it.
What do you think?
With best wishes ,
Livon
 
 

Hello Livon,

The two sentences you provide are actually examples of conditional sentences in which the if-clause has been omitted - this is quite common in English.  For example:

'It would be fun [if we did it].'

'It would be difficult [if we tried to do it].'

In these kinds of conditional sentences the 'would + verb' form describes an unlikely or impossible present or future action or state.  You can find more information on this and related structures on this page and on this page.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Pete ,

I appreciate your help.

With kind regards,

Livon

Hello,

I am quite demented about the usage of modals may, might and could.These are used to express possibility,but might and could are past forms.Please explain

How can you use these three modals to express possibility and in what sense and degree?

Kindly please provide explanations along with examples.

With kind regards,

Livon 

Hello Livon4090,

We are a small team here on LearnEnglish and we have to respond to many comments every day, so it's not possible for us to provide long explanations of quite large areas of grammar such as this - that is why we have the grammar explanation pages.  You can find examples and explanations for these modals used to express possibility on this page, and you can find information on the same modals used with 'have' here.  Please look at the examples there and if you have any questions about those examples, or if you have any other sentences you're not sure about, then please post them and we'll try to help you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Pete,
The following sentences are used for future possibility ,but not sure.

  1. They might come later (=perhaps/maybe they will come later)
  2. They may come by car (perhaps/maybe they will come by car)
  3. If we don't hurry we could be late (= perhaps/maybe we will be late)

Can we interchange the modals in the above three sentences.For example

  1. They could come later (=perhaps/maybe they will come later)
  2. They could come by car (=perhaps/maybe they will come by car)
  3. If we don't hurry we might/may be late (=perhaps/maybe we will be late)

I hope to hear from you soon.
Best wishes,
Livon
 

Hi Livon,

Yes, the first three sentences are all correct and all of them express possibility. The second set of three sentences with different modals are also all correct.

Good work!

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 could you explain the usage of did and have, when do you use did and have in a question?
 

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