Modal Verbs

Learn to use modal verbs correctly

by | Aug 10, 2019 | Grammar, Writing

A grammar point. Learn to use English modal verbs (can, could, must, would, may, will) correctly, and avoid common mistakes about them.

Modal Verbs

Do you know what modal verbs are and how they are used in an English sentence? If yes, decide which of the following examples are correct!

1) She should finish her project by next weekend.

2) He can to play piano.

3) My salary will increase next year.

4) We do not should wear casual clothes at work.

(Answer at the end of the script)

Modal verbs imply certain meanings like ability, suggestion, obligation, certainty, request, possibility, etc. We can consider all the auxiliary verbs as modal verbs except for “be, do and have”.

However, you must pay attention to four very important points.

Point 1:

Use the base form of the verb after each of these verbs.

e.g. I must study really hard to pass this test. (I must to study…)
e.g. We shall arrive in Sydney tomorrow evening. (“Shall” is mainly used in British English)
e.g. When I was younger I could run fast, but I can’t run fast now! e.g. He can go outside for a cigarette. (He can goes…)


Point 2:

Never use “do” in questions and the negatives of modal verbs.

e.g. shall we meet at 2? (do we shall …)
e.g. You can’t leave the classroom whenever you want. (You don’t can leave…)


Point 3:

Modal verbs take no “-s” in the third person.

e.g. She may take you to the park if you behave yourself. (she mays…)
e.g. He might come to the party if we ask him. (He mights…)


Point 4:

you can’t use many of these verbs, neither in past or future tenses nor in the infinitive or participle forms.

e.g. You should have tried harder to get that job. (You shoulded…)
e.g. If you had told me I would have picked you up from school.

In order to study this Grammar in detail, you can refer to page 325 of Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.


(Answer: Sentences 1 and 3 are correct.)


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Modal Verbs

About the Author

About the Author

Online Tutor and Content Writer

Nikki Akrainejad is an English teacher and a content writer at IELTS  Juice Online Academy.


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