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Transcript of Modal Verbs
Basic Definition of the Grammar Item
A modal verb is a type of AUXILIARY VERB that is used to indicate MODALITY- That is likelihood, ability, permission and obligation.
.The have no-S in the 3rd person singular.
.Questions, negatives, tags and short answers are made without do. (Eg: Can you swim? Yes, I can)
.After modal auxiliary verbs we use the infinitive without to of other verbs. (Eg: I must water the palnts).
.Do not have infinitives or participles (to may, maying, mayed) and they do normally have not past forms.
Types of Modal Verbs
Differences between Spanish and English
CAN & COULD
MAY & MIGHT
3rd person has no -s
ought + to + infinitive
negative of ought, not goes before to:
I ought not to leave/ I oughtn't to leave
adverbs (always, really...) can go before or after the modal verb:
> Formal: You ought always to stop at the stop sign
> Less formal: You always ought to stop at the stop sign.
There is no -s in the 3rd person
Questions/ negatives made without do
WILL & WOULD
No -s in the 3rd person
Questions/negatives made without do
will/ would + infinitive (without to)
As foreign English users we are not familiar with the different degrees of certainty that there are when using modal verbs.
He should be here soon/ He shall be here soon.
That can´t be John./ That oughtn´t be John.
MUST AND HAVE (GOT) TO.
Where is necessary, make corrections in the underline parts of this email message:
Sorry I haven´t been in touch for a while. You (1)must have been wondering what´s been happening. Well, I must admit I´ve had a pretty awful week. When I got home from work last Monday, the front door was wide open. The door´s very stiff and I (2) always have got to pull it very hard to shut it. My neighbor´s always saying "(3) Have you to bang the door so hard?" When I went in I found that the house had been burgled. (4) They must have climbed over the fence in the back garden.
Anyway, (5) I´ve to go. Hope the family is well. Julie (14) must get ready to go back to university. And you (6) must be busy with the new school year just about to star. When you have time, we (7) have to get together for a weekend.
All the best for now,
MAY and MIGHT: possibility.
Complete the sentences with either may or might.
1. Exceeding the stated dose................cause drowsiness.
2.The planet Venus.............be seen clearly in the night sky during this month.
3.We..............go to Majorca for our holiday this summer.
SHOULD and MUST
1. A timetable..........be set for withdrawing the army.
2. Les isn´t home yet. He..................have been held up at work.
3. " I wonder how old Mike is?"" Well, he went to school with my mother, so he.................be well over 50"
Advanced Grammar in Use Second edition. Martin Hewings. Cambridge University Press/ The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Tips for its use:
The third person doesn't add an -s. (Musts does not exist)
Questions or negatives don't work with do.
The negative of must is: mustn't or must not
Must doesn't have past tense either. In those cases we would use have to
Must works to express a conclusion that something is certain or to talk about necessity and obligation.
We use must when we are certain about something
Make an statement
be very proud of herself (She got into Harvard)
Certainty about the past:
must have + participle
great to go
with you to Rome
Must cannot express certainty about a negative fact. In those cases we use
can't or cannot.
-The people is leaving the party. It
be a funny party.
Must to express necessity and obligation
In these cases,
uses more often have (got) to, and
use usually must.
: what we need, strong
advice and orders.
-You must stop smoking. It is not
good for your health,
Questions about what might be
-Must I do my homework tonight?
To express that is wrong to do something
You mustn't do everything he does. He is a bad influence.
Must & should: Should is a modal verb with a weaker connotation.
-Carlos must be working now (Certainty about Carlos being working right now)
-Carlos should be working now (Carlos is probably working right now, but we are not certain of it)
Obligation: advise people, tell about duties,
to ask about our duty.
*Similar to should, but less frequent.
(It also has a weaker connotation than
-People ought to throw out the scraps into the
trash can instead of doing so in the grass.
Deduction: when we conclude that something is probable.
-The bus arrives at 6 pm. She ought to be here soon
Ought has no past form. Therefore, we use ought to have + past participle to talk about:
> things that were supposed to happen but didn't happen
> thing which we are not certain to have happened
Use of Should:
things that are good/ important for people to do
-Tomorrow might be colder than today. You should wear a jacket
after certain adjectives or nouns.
It important that you wear a jacket if it is cold
, after in case, in order that, for fear that....
-If you go with her, you should tell her to wear a jacket
Should could be used
instead of would.
In sentences with if
indirect speech (instead of shall/will)
-I told her that she should be awake
by 8.00 am
Should have + past participle:
talk about past events which did not
happen, or may not have happened
-She should have worn a jacket,
but she didn´t listen to me.
The preterit form could is used as the past tense or conditional form of can .
It is also used to express possible circumstance:
We could go to the cinema
Both can and could can be used to make requests: Can/could you pass me the salt? That means "Please pass me the salt" (where could indicates politeness).
We can use 'may' to ask for permission. However this is rather formal and not used very often in modern spoken English
May I borrow your pen?
May we think about it?
May I go now?
We use 'may' to suggest something is possible
It may rain later today.
I may not have time to do it today.
Pete may come with us
USE OF WOULD
It is less definite than will, and could also be the past of will
USE OF WILL
Will can be employed to talk about the
-It will rain tomorrow
about the present/future situations
-I am sure that he will call you in less than three days.
To announce a decision, firm intention, promise or threat
-I will definitely talk to her tomorrow
In order to tell people what to do
Will you close the door?
Distancing: If we want to make a
less direct order we can use will
to displace it into the future:
-Tim, I am afraid that you will have to
read all that paperwork
Criticise people´s typical behavior
-If you will keep skipping classes there will be strict consequences for you
Use of would for indirect speech
-Morgan said: Tomorrow I will buy a
bike for Mike
-Morgan said that she would buy a
bike for Mike tomorrow
Future in the past. to talk about a
past action that hadn't happened
-That day, he saw the woman he would
Polite requests: Would you come to my office, Peggy?
Typical behavior in the past: When Peter was young, he would cry for no reason
Would/ used to. They both refer to repeated actions in the past. But for important habitual behavior we just can use "used to".
-Albert used to play chess (and not would play chess)
The modal verb can expresses possibility. For example:
I can write in German ("I am able to write in German" or "I know how to write in German")
You can smoke here means "you are permitted to smoke here”
Its also used to ask for permission:
Can I use your bathroom?
Can I leave now?
Used as well to make requests or suggestions:
Can I have more napkins?
It is common to use "can" with verbs of perception such as see, hear, etc., as in I can see a car.
The negation of can is the single word cannot, Its contracted form is can't .
The negative forms reverse the meaning of the modal (to express inability, impermissibility or impossibliity).
It is better to use could, may or might rather than can when expressing possible circumstance in a particular situation.
The use of "could" with the perfect infinitive expresses past ability or possibility
-I could have told him if I had seen him
I could have told him yesterday (but in fact I didn't).
The negation of could is the regular could not, contracted to couldn't.
We use 'might' to suggest a small possibility of something.
There is little difference between "may" and "might," 'might" is more usual than 'may' in spoken English.
She might be at home by now but it's not sure at all.
I might not have time to go to the shops for you.
I might not go.
For the past, we use 'might have'.
He might have tried to call while I was out.
I might have dropped it in the street.
"May" can have future as well as present reference:
He may come - It is possible that he will come.
I may go to the beach - I am considering going to the beach
When used with the perfect infinitive, "may have" indicates uncertainty about a past circumstance, for example:
She may have eaten the cake (the speaker does not know whether she ate cake).
NEGATIVE (DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CAN/COULD AND MAY/MIGHT)
The negative forms reverse the meaning of the modal (to express inability, impermissibility or impossiblity).
This differs the case with "can" or "could" from the case with "may" or "might" used to express possibility: "it can't be true" has a different meaning than "it may not be true".
Can't (or cannot) is often used to express disbelief in the possibility of something, as "may not" expresses something that maybe happens or maybe not.
When the circumstance in question refers to the past, the form with the perfect infinitive is used:
he can't (cannot) have done it means "I believe it impossible that he did it"
The use of modal verbs in Spanish
While in English we use modal verbs in Spanish we can use verb tenses like: "preterito imperfecto del subjuntivo" or "condicional del indicativo"
What would you do if you had a free year?/ ¿Qué harías si te tomaras un año sabático?
Most modal verbs do not have a past form so they are replaced by other expressions while in Spanish they do have a past tense.
Me gustaría poder patinar
to be able