Modals are special verbs that are used with the main verb to make the sentence more meaningful.
Modals are used to:
- indicate the possibility or necessity of an event
- make requests, offers or suggestions
- to make what you are saying more polite, to seek permission
- express ability or certainty
- express moral obligation or duty
- express willingness, promise or intention
Common Modal Verbs
Can, Could, Shall, Should, May, Might, Will, Would, Must, Ought to
Need and dare can sometimes be used as modal verbs.
- May I borrow your notebook? (seeking permission)
- I could ride a horse when I was five years old. (express ability)
- Could you hold this for a while? (polite request)
- It may rain today. (express possibility)
- You must take better care of your health. (express necessity)
- We ought to respect our parents. (moral obligation)
- Shall I bring a glass of water for you? (request)
- I will write to you as soon as I reach Ambala. (promise)
- How dare you slap me? (negative, interrogative sense)
- We should take care of our pets. (duty)
- I can speak German. (express ability)
- Modal verbs do not take ‘-s’ in the third person singular.
- They have no –ing and –ed form.
- Many modal verbs cannot be used in the past tense or the future tense.
- Modals are not used alone. They are always used with the main verb that follows them.
- Use ‘not’ after modals to make them negative.