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Using modals of obligation

Learn how to use modals correctly!

Jennifer McCoy

on 19 September 2013

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Transcript of Using modals of obligation

had better
ought to
had better not
must not
has to/have to
doesn't have to
don't have to
doesn't need to
don't need to
had better
ought to
has to / have to
had better not
doesn't have to / don't have to
must not
How strong are they?
We use modals of obligation to give advice.
Some are very strong,
Some say "no."
but some say "yes."
Some say "maybe."
not too strong
not too strong
You must not smoke inside the school.
It is against the law.
Students must not use their cell phones in class.
If they do, the teacher will take them.
People must not steal.
I must not forget to study!
There's a test tomorrow!
We don't use "must not" in the past.
Instead, we use different words.
It was not allowed.
People couldn't do it.
You had better not lie to your parents!
If you do, they'll punish you.
I had better not go to bed late tonight.
I have a test tomorrow.
I had better not forget to call my friend on her birthday.
If I forget, she'll cry.
We use "had better not" to give specific advice.
We use it when something bad will probably happen
if we don't follow the advice.
We don't use "had better not" in the past.
You had better not leave your handbag on the table.
Someone might take it!
We use "shouldn't" to give general or specific advice.
We use it to say the something is a bad idea.
We don't use "shouldn't" in the past.
I really shouldn't eat so much cake.
It's got too much sugar, so it's not healthy.
You shouldn't buy that dress.
It's too expensive.
People shouldn't smoke because it causes cancer.
Your sister shouldn't play video games all night.
She looks really tired today.
Students don't need to bring their passports to school.
You don't have to help me.
I'm OK.
Parents don't need to pay for public school.
It's free.
We don't have to come to school on Saturday.
It's our day off.
but some are not.
Some examples?
We use "don't/doesn't have to" or "don't/doesn't need to"
to say something is not necessary.
There is a choice: yes or no.
Also, you can use these in the past:
"didn't have to" or "didn't need to"
We use "could" to say something is possible.
There is a choice: yes or no.
You should buy that dress!
The color is perfect.
Everyone ought to eat a healthy diet.
I ought to read more.
That would really help my English.
You should always tell the truth.
We use "should" or "ought to" to say something is a good idea.
We can use it for general advice or specific advice.
We don't use "should" or "ought to" in the past.
"Ought to" always uses "to" before the infinitive verb.
You had better turn down your music
or the neighbors will start complaining!
I'd better wash my hands before I eat.
I think they're a bit dirty.
We had better feed the cat.
She's really hungry!
You had better pay attention in class,
or you'll miss something important.
We use "had better" to say that something is a good idea.
We usually use it for specific advice.
We often use it when something BAD will probably happen
if we don't follow the advice.
You must be 18 years old to drive.
If you're younger than 18, the police can stop you!
Students must be on time for class.
If they are late, they will be marked absent.
If you want a good grade, you need to study.
Fatima has to visit her grandmother this weekend.
Her father told her to do that.
We use "must" "have to/has to" and "need to/needs to" to say something is necessary.
There is no choice.
We can use "have to/has to" and "need to/needs to" in the past: "had to" or "needed to."
We can't use "must" in the past.
of obligation
have to/has to
ought to
don't have to
doesn't have to
had better
had better not
must not
have to
don't have to
all modals
go to quiz 157 modal verbs
have to
don't have to
General Rules
need to/needs to
You must not smoke here.
must not
shout at
their parents.
must not
You must not run with scissors.
You had better not
knock on this door.
He had better not
touch that hot stove!
You had better not put that in your mouth!
She shouldn't procrastinate.
She shouldn't
wait until the
last minute.
You shouldn't slouch!
She shouldn't wear those shoes when she has to walk a lot.
She shouldn't eat all that food.
We don't need to take the stairs. OR We don't have to take the stairs.
We could take the elevator.
You don't have to drink coffee.
You don't need to drink coffee.

You could drink tea.
We don't need to drive to the mall. We could take the Metro.
You don't have to tell me now.
You can tell me later.
You should brush your teeth after every meal.
You should be quiet
in the library.
She ought to go to sleep earlier!
She ought to study harder.
Someone had better put her to bed.
She looks like she's going to fall down!
He had better hurry
if he doesn't want to be late.
There are children in the street.
You had better drive slowly.
You had better stay back from the cliff.
You don't want to fall.
I had better slow down around this corner.
It looks dangerous.
Plants need to have sunlight to live.
Travelers must show their passports.
Fish have to be in water to survive.
Drivers must obey the laws.
Modals don't take "s" with he, she, or it.
You use "not" to make modals negative.
She must do her homework.
We should not be late.
Modals are followed by the infinitive of the verb,
I should eat lunch now.
but some verbs work like modals,
She has to ask her father.
NOT CORRECT: Yesterday, I must go to class.
and they can be used in the past and future.
Yesterday, I had to go to class.
have to/has to need to/needs to
has to --> had to, will have to
needs to --> needed to, will need to
"Ought" works like a modal (no past or future)
but it always has "to" with it.
You ought to memorize these rules.
need to / needs to
don't need to / doesn't need to
need to/needs to
don't need to
doesn't need to
Great site!
Explanations and quizzes!
have to
don't have to
and can't be used in the past or future.
and they are followed by to+infinitive,
For practice, follow the links in each section.
They will take you to an explanation or a quiz.
Use the "all modals" links to practice everything altogether.
of obligation
You had better not let him eat that!
Full transcript