Modal verbs

Modal verbs

All modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, which means they can only be used with a main verb. Modal verbs cannot be a main verb. The modal verbs are; will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might and must.  They are used to express expectation/possibility/certainty.

1) They do not have participle or infinitive forms
2) They do not have a past form
3) They do not take the ending -(e)s in the third-person singular
4) Questions are formed by inversion with the subject
5) The negative is formed by the addition of not/n’t

– Will is used to show desire, preference, choice or consent, capability, determination or insistence

– Would is used to show preference

– Shall is used for obligation

– Should is used to give an opinion, to make a suggestion, express a preference or an idea

– Can is used to show ability, ask for permission, to offer something

– Could is used to show possibility, past ability, ask for permission, for requests

– May shows possibility and is used to request permission

– Might shows a slight possibility

– Must is used for obligation, logical deduction and prohibition


Past expectation

A past expectation is used to talk about what we think is right or wrong, to give advice or to talk about things we regret. It is formed using the modal verb ‘Should’ + Have + Past Participle


Present/Future expectation

To express present or future expectation, you must use ‘should’ which is a modal verb, followed by the base form of the infinitive


Past possibility

A past possibility is formed using a Modal Verb (may/might/could) + Have + Past Participle


Present/Future possibility

Present or future possibility is formed using a Modal Verb (may/might/could) followed by the base form of the infinitive


Past Certainty

To express past certainty you must use the modal verbs ‘must’, or ‘could’ + Have + Past Participle


Present Certainty

To express Present Certainty use the modal verbs ‘must’, or ‘can’ + the base form of the infinitive


Future certainty

To express Future Certainty use ‘going to’ or ‘will’ followed by the base form of the infinitive


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