1. What are modals?
Modals are used to ‘moderate’ verbs.
This means they change the meaning of the verb.
2. How to use modals
Modals are placed before the verb:
After a modal, the basic form of the verb is used. This means don’t use ‘to’, ‘ing’, or a participle.
|Modal||Basic form of verb||Modal + verb||Example sentence|
|can||run||can run||I can run quicker than my brother.|
|could||fly||could fly||The dog thought could fly. It could not.|
|should||go||should go||We should go, otherwise we will be late.|
|may||start||may start||You may start your exam now.|
|might||come||might come||Erin said she might come to our party.|
|must||change||must change||The company must change if it doesn’t want to go bankrupt.|
|will||win||will win||I am sure France will win this game.|
|would||kill||would kill||I would kill you if I could.|
3. What the modals mean
Each modal gives the verb a new meaning.
|Modal||Meaning||Short example||Example sentence|
|–||true||1. I hear music.|
2. I pay taxes.
|1. Shh. Wait. I hear music.|
2. Each April I pay my taxes.
|1. I can hear music.|
2. I can pay taxes
|1. Quiet. I think I can hear music. We must be close.|
2. I can only pay my taxes after I get paid.
|should||1. to not do so is unusual|
2. the right thing to do
|1. I should hear music.|
2. I should pay taxes
|1. Now, if all these cables are right, and I press play, I should hear music.|
2. I know I should pay my taxes, but I don’t agree with how the money is being spent.
2. am thinking about it
|1. I may hear music.|
2. I may pay taxes
|1. If you stop talking, I may hear the music.|
2. I may pay taxes, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just run away.
2. am thinking about it
|1. I might hear music.|
2. I might pay taxes
|1. If you stop talking, I might hear the music.|
2. I might pay taxes, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just run away.
|must||1. if I don’t, I will be unhappy|
2. have no choice
|1. I must hear music.|
2. I must pay my taxes
|1. Everyone is talking about their new album. I must hear it!|
2. The government says I must pay my taxes.
|will||1. 100% sure|
|1. I will hear music.|
2. I will pay my taxes
|1. If you turn the CD player on, I‘ll hear music.|
2. I‘ll pay my taxes after I get paid.
|would||1. cause and effect|
2. if I could
|1. I would hear music.|
2. I would pay my taxes
|1. I would hear more music if I had a radio.|
2. I would pay my taxes if I had the money, but I don’t.
4. Using modals to be polite
Using modals make questions more polite.
The modals for polite questions are:
can, may, might, would
|Get me a cheeseburger!||Can you get me a cheeseburger?|
Could you get me a cheeseburger?
Would you get me a cheeseburger?
|I want to borrow your car.||Can I borrow your car?|
Might I borrow your car?
May I borrow your car?
|Give me all your money.||Can you give me all your money?|
Might you give me all your money?
Would you give me all your money?
1. Make a sentence using each of the basic modals.
2. Make polite questions using the basic modals.Modals are used to ‘moderate’ verbs (i.e. they change the meaning). After a modal, the basic form of the verb is used.