The Modals

Meanings and examples of the English modal verbs

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The Modals by Mind Map: The Modals

1. In Spoken English, we do not usually use mustn't when talking to or about another adult (but you do with children). We use can't instead.

1.1. (a friend to another friend): You can't park here. There are double yellow lines.

2. May/Might/Would I have a piece of cake, please? Yes, of course.

3. They are used to make the request more polite. MIGHT is very formal and is not often used.

4. (IM)POSSIBILITY

4.1. PERHAPS.... IT'S POSSIBLE.... IT'S IMPOSSIBLE... IT'S (UN)LIKELY...

4.2. CAN

4.2.1. I can help you with your homework if you want.

4.3. COULD MAY MIGHT

4.3.1. These roads could/may/might get very busy at peak hours.

5. ABILITY

5.1. TO MANAGE TO...

5.2. CAN BE ABLE TO

5.2.1. Ability in the PRESENT

5.2.1.1. She can / is able to speak several languages.

5.3. COULD BE ABLE TO

5.3.1. Ability in the PAST

5.3.1.1. She could / was able to use computers when she was only 5 years old.

5.4. WILL BE ABLE TO

5.4.1. Ability in the FUTURE

5.4.1.1. She will be able to pass all her subjects if she studies hard.

6. ADVICE

6.1. (verb advice) I ADVICE YOU... (had better) YOU'D BETTER... IF I WERE YOU....

6.2. SHOULD OUGHT TO

6.2.1. Mark should/ ought to get a new job. He shouldn't leave school yet.

7. REQUEST/PERMISSION

7.1. CAN COULD

7.1.1. Can / Could he come to class with me?

8. POLITE REQUEST/PERMISSION

8.1. MAY MIGHT WOULD

9. OBLIGATION /DUTY / NECESSITY

9.1. IT IS COMPULSORY... IT IS OBLIGATORY.... IT IS SUPPOSED TO... IT IS OBLIGED TO... IT IS ESSENTIAL.... IT IS NECESSARY

9.2. MUST HAVE TO

9.2.1. Must & have to: have a similar meaning. They both express the idea that something is necessary or required. MUST can only be used in the PRESENT or FUTURE. HAVE TO can be used in any tense.

9.2.1.1. (it is your duty) You must listen to the teacher.

9.2.1.2. (it is necessary) We have to be at the airport at 9 o'clock.

9.3. SHOULD OUGHT TO

9.3.1. Less emphatic than must. They both express duty.

9.3.1.1. People should take / ought to take better care of the ennvironment.

9.4. NEED TO

9.4.1. It is necessary to

9.4.1.1. I need to talk to the firefighters right away. My house is on fire!

10. LACK OF OBLIGATION DUTY / NECESSITY

10.1. IT IS NOT COMPULSORY... IT IS NOT OBLIGATORY.... IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO... IT IS NOT OBLIGED TO... IT IS NOT ESSENTIAL.... IT IS NOT NECESSARY

10.2. DON'T HAVE TO DON'T NEED TO NEEDN'T

10.2.1. It is not necessary to do sth

10.2.1.1. You needn't / don't have to / don't need to work tonight.

11. PROHIBITION

11.1. IT'S FORBIDDEN... IT'S NOT ALLOWED... IT'S PROHIBITED...

11.2. MUSTN'T

11.2.1. It expresses prohibition in writing, including official forms, signs, notices.

11.2.1.1. You mustn't smoke in an indoor area.

11.3. CAN'T

12. LOGICAL DEDUCTION

12.1. I'M SURE.....(to be sure) I'M CERTAIN (to be certain)

12.2. MUST

12.2.1. It is used in affirmative sentences and expresses positive logical assumptions = I'm sure/certain that something is true.

12.2.1.1. It is Sunday. He must be at home.

12.3. CAN'T COULDN'T

12.3.1. They are used in negations and express negative logical assumptions. I'm sure that something isn't true, real, etc.

12.3.1.1. It is Sunday. He can't/couldn't be at work.

13. IT'S ALLOWED...