The Use of MODALS

The use of MODALS

Still confused how to use “modals” in your sentences? Are you having problems and still not knowing which modal should go with your sentence? Well, in this article I’m going to ease your problems.

CAN is used to show:

1. Ability

    • I can swim.

2. Informal permission

    • You can use my car tomorrow.

3. Informal polite request

    • Can I borrow your car tomorrow?

4. Impossibility (Negative only)

    • That can’t be true!

COULD is used to show:

1. Past ability

     • I could swim.

2. Polite request 

    • Could you do me a favor?

3. Suggestion

    • I need help with my English. – You could ask Miss Demi for help.

4. Possibility (less than 50% certainty)

    • Where’s Rina? – She could be sleeping.

MAY is used to show:

1. Polite request

    • May I share this post?

2. Formal permission

    • You may leave the room.

3. Possibility (less than 50% certainty)

    • Where’s Prof. Cartlidge? – He may be at the library.

MIGHT is used to show:

1. Possibility (less than 50% certainty)

    • Where’s Sonali? – She might be at home.

MUST is used to show:

1. Strong necessity

    • I must go to class today.

2. Prohibition

    • You mustn’t open that door.

3. Possibility (95% certainty)

    • Fatila isn’t in class. She must be sick.

WILL is used to show:

1. Possibility (100% certainty)

    • He will be here at 7:00.

2. Willingness

    • The phone’s ringing. – I’ll get it.

3. Polite request

    • Will you past the salt?

WOULD is used to show:

1. Polite request

    • Would you mind if I left early?

2. Preference

    • I would rather stay home than go to the park.

3. Repeated action in the past

    • When I was a child, my father would read me bedtime story.

SHALL is used to show:

1. Polite question to make a suggestion

    • Shall I open the window?

2. Future with “I” and “we” as subject

    • I shall arrive at seven. (“will” is more common)

SHOULD is used to show:

1. Advisability

    • You should see a doctor.

2. Possibility (90% certainty)

    • She should do well on the test.

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