Modal Verbs – Tema 3 (Avanzado)
Here’s a list of the modal verbs in English:
Modals are different from normal verbs:
1: They don’t use an ‘s’ for the third person singular.
2: They make questions by inversion (‘she can go’ becomes ‘can she go?’).
3: They are followed directly by the infinitive of another verb (without ‘to’).
First, they can be used when we want to say how sure we are that something happened / is happening / will happen. We often call these ‘modals of deduction’ or ‘speculation’ or ‘certainty’ or ‘probability’.
- It’s snowing, so it must be very cold outside.
- I don’t know where John is. He could have missed the train.
- This bill can’t be £200 for two cups of coffee!
We use ‘can’ and ‘could’ to talk about a skill or ability.
- She can speak six languages.
- My grandfather could play golf very well.
- I can’t drive.
Obligation and Advice
We can use verbs such as ‘must’ or ‘should’ to say when something is necessary or unnecessary, or to give advice.
- Children must do their homework.
- We have to wear a uniform at work.
- You should stop
We can use verbs such as ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘may’ to ask for and give permission. We also use modal verbs to say something is not allowed.
- Could I leave early today, please?
- You may not use the car tonight.
- Can we swim in the lake?
We can use ‘will’ and ‘would’ to talk about habits or things we usually do, or did in the past.
- When I lived in Italy, we would often eat in the restaurant next to my flat.
- John will always be late!