Saturday, October 10, 2015


Modal verbs
Modals (also called modal verbs, modal auxiliary verbs, modal auxiliaries) are special verbs which behave irregularly in English. They are different from normal verbs like "work, play, visit..." They give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows it. They have a great variety of communicative functions.
Here are some characteristics of modal verbs:
·         They never change their form. You can't add "s", "ed", "ing", irrespective of singular or plural number or person  of the Subject.
·         They are always followed by an infinitive without "to"  ( i.e V1/ Base form). However in traditional grammar two modal verb with 'to' i.e. 'used to' to indicate past habit &  'ought to'   to indicate compulsion.
·         They are used to indicate modality allowing speakers to express certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, ability
List of modal verbs
Here is a list of modal verbs:
can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must
The verbs or expressions dareought tohad better, used to and need not behave like modal auxiliaries to a large extent and may be added to the above list.  
Generally will/ shall are used before V1 to get simple future Tense.& to express willingness , certainty.
 First Personal pronouns  I /We  take  ‘Shall’  and remaining persons take ‘Will’.
Ex:  I/ We shall attend the class tomorrow. (Simple Future)
       He/ She/ will be attending classes next week.  (Future Continuous)
       It / They will have reached the station.  (Future Perfect )
Use of modal verbs:
Modal verbs are used to express functions such as:
1.     Permission
2.     Ability
3.     Obligation
4.     Prohibition
5.    Necessity /  Lack of necessity
6.     Advice / willingness
7.     possibility /  probability
8.       Past habit
Examples of modal verbs
Here is a list of modals with examples:
Modal Verb
Strong obligation
You must stop when the traffic lights turn red.
logical conclusion / Certainty
He must be very tired. He's been working all day long.
must not
You must not smoke in the hospital.
I can swim.
Can I use your phone please?
Smoking can cause cancer.
ability in the past
When I was younger I could run fast. ( = used to )
polite permission
Excuse me, could I just say something?
It could rain tomorrow!
May I use your phone please?
possibility, probability
It may rain tomorrow!
weak possibility  : It might rain in the evening.
polite permission
May / Might I suggest an idea?
possibility, probability
I might go on holiday to Australia next year.

need not
lack of necessity/absence of obligation
I need not buy tomatoes. There are plenty of tomatoes in the fridge.
necessity : I need to go now.
should/ought to
50 % obligation
I should / ought to see a doctor. I have a terrible headache.
You should / ought to revise your lessons
logical conclusion
He should / ought to be very tired. He's been working all day long.
had better
You 'd better revise your lessons.

All modals take V1 immediately after them. 
Examples:  ( modal + V1 ) 
·         You must stop when the traffic lights turn red.
·         You should see to the doctor.
·         There are a lot of tomatoes in the fridge. You need not buy any.

  •  If there is another helping verb after a Modal verb, the main verb changes:

    • I shall be going  .  ( modal+ be form+ ing ),   
    •  I might have met him earlier. ( modal+ have form+ v3),
    • We shall have been playing. ( modal+have+been+ing )
    • It could have been done .  ( modal + have form + been+ V3 = Passive Voice)

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