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Transcript of MODAL VERBS
THEY ARE ALWAYS FOLLOWED BY THE INFINITIVE WITHOUT "TO".
THEY ARE THE SAME FOR ALL THE PRONOUNS.
THEY DO NOT NEED AUXILIARIES. THEY TAKE DIRECT NEGATIVE AND QUESTION FORMS.
THEY NEVER COMBINE WITH ANOTHER MODAL VERB.
CAN Can I open the window?
MAY May I sit down, please?
CAN I can go in two directions.
BE ABLE TO You will be able to find a seat at the theater tonight.
COULD I could go shopping today instead of tomorrow.
MAY / MIGHT I might be late because of the traffic during rush hour.
NEED TO I need to slow down on this road
HAVE TO You have to learn to take control of the car
) You must stop for at least two seconds at a stop sign
OBLIGATION / NECESSITY
CAN Can you drop me off at work?
COULD (polite request) Could you stop at the traffic light?
MAY (polite request) May I tell him the secret?
WILL Will you sign this for me?
WOULD (formal request) Would you please turn right?
COULD You could take Dad to the shop
SHALL Shall we dance?
Jack can drive a car
BE ABLE TO
Jim is able to fix my washing machine
COULD (past ability)
She could use this camera when she was five years old
LACK OF OBLIGATION / NECESSITY
NEEDN'T You needn't order a pizza for dinner. I have some hamburgers in the fridge.
DON'T HAVE TO He doesn't have to pick me up. I can go alone.
MUSTN'T You mustn't text while driving
CAN'T You can't drive so fast on this motorway. Look at the speed limit!
She can't speak Chinese
DISBELIEF / DEDUCTION
ADVICE / OPINION
BE ABLE TO
THEY DO NOT SHARE THESE CHARACTERISTICS
• Can I go to the bathroom? (asking for permission)
• May I go to the bathroom? (more politely asking for permission)
• Could I go to the bathroom? (asking for permission with less certainty)
• Might I go to the bathroom? (asking for permission with uncertainty)
Different degrees and types
• You could listen to me. (suggestion)
• You might listen to me. (uncertain suggestion)
• You should listen to me. (strong suggestion)
• You must listen to me. (stronger suggestion)
• You will listen to me. (strongest suggestion)
MODAL + HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
to have done something
but in fact did not.
MAY / MIGHT HAVE
about a past action
CERTAINTY or LOGICAL CONCLUSION
about an event in the past.
SHOULD / OUGHT TO HAVE
CRITICISM or REGRET
after an event.
to have done something
but, in fact,
due to external circumstances.
STUDY MORE TO PASS THE TEST.
STUDIED MORE TO PASS THE TEST.
In B the speaker has REGRETS about not studying.
PICK ME UP AT 9:00.
PICKED ME UP AT 9:00.
In B the speaker hasn't been picked up yet.
Never used as a modal perfect
They refer to finished actions which have already happened.
Completed actions in the past.