What are modal verbs? English Grammar Explanations

by Sep 25, 2019English Grammar Tips, English Time Ask Elo

What are modal verbs

What are modal verbs? English Grammar Explanations

What are modal verbs

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What are modal verbs

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What are modal verbs?

Asked by @ Justice Batri (Community Student)

What are modal verbs

Answered by @ Elo Kasia

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What are modal verbs


Modals, Modal Verbs, Types of Modal Verbs: Useful List & Examples | English Grammar



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TO BE with expressions of obligation, request and command


What are modal verbs Question Time: What are modal verbs?


What are modal verbs  @ Justice Batri , Thank you for your question

What are modal verbs  As usual, I will try to explain the difference using simple language and plenty of examples.


Modal verbs are special types of verbs (called auxiliary or helping verbs) in English and include can, could, must, may, might, will, shall, would, should, etc. They are used with other verbs to express ability, obligation, prohibition, possibility, permission, probability, opinion and so on.
Modal verbs are special because:
They do not change their form (spelling), i.e. they don’t use an ‘s’ for the third person singular and most do not have a past (or past participle) form. àI can go. He can go. She must work, etc. (Not He cans go.)
  • They are followed by the infinitive (without “to”) à They couldn’t sleep. (not They couldn’t to sleep)
  • They do not need another helping verb to make negatives or questions. For example: Must I come? (not Do I must come?), or: He shouldn’t smoke (not He doesn’t should smoke).
  • They are sometimes complicated as they can have different meanings depending on the situation.


Below is a list showing the most useful modal verbs and their most common meanings:



to express ability or is something possible to do

  • I can speak a little Spanish. I can’t come to the party.


to ask permission or to make a request

  • Can I open the window? Can you help me?


to express possibility or to request permission

  • I may be home late. May I sit down?
to express obligation or necessity to
  • do something
  • I must go now. I must clean my car today.
to express a strong belief
  • She must be over 90 years old.
to express prohibition
  • You mustn’t be late.
to give advice
  • You should stop smoking.
to request or offer
  • Would you like a cup of tea?
Make sure you follow my articles this week to learn more about particular modal verbs and do our *TT exercises designed to help you practise.
Elo Kasia is the English Community Mentor and Director at Eloquent Learning Online, an educational institution based in the UK.


Check my other articles here: All English Time Ask Elo – Learning Articles


What are modal verbs Elo Kasia

Community Mentor for English Grammar and Speaking Academy“.

Director at Eloquent Learning Online, educational institution based in the UK. www.eloquentlearning.com.

What are modal verbs

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What are modal verbs