Modal verbs in English/Modal auxiliary verbs
Meaning of modals /Modal verb definition/Modal definition/ Modals meaning:
What are modals? (What are modal verbs?)
Here are some modal verbs: Can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must, ought to, need (to), dare, etc.
Modal verbs examples:
- I can speak three languages.
- You must respect the club’s rules.
- You ought to respect the rules.
- He is absent today. He may be sick.
- I used to drink alcohol but i gave up last year.
- Can I help you?
- You shouldn’t eat much meat.
- Modal verbs are followed by infinitive without ‘to’ except ‘used to’ and ‘ought to’
- Modal verbs have one form. They don’t have -ed or -ing forms.
- Questions are not formed by the use of the auxiliaries do, does or did.
- To form negative sentences with modals just use not or -n’t after the modal verb.
Can and cannot (can’t)
Cannot is one word. The short form is can’t.
1. Can is used to ask permission to do something:
- Can I stay out with my friends, mom?
- Can I go out, please?
2. Can and cannot are used to give or refuse permission:
- You can / cannot borrow my new car.
- You can’t wear jeans at work. (You aren’t allowed or permitted to wear jeans at work.)
3. Can expresses an offer:
- Can I help you? (what can I do for you?) (offering help)
4. Can is used to make a request:
- Can you help me?
- Can you open that window, please? It’s hot in here.
5. Cannot or can’t express certainty:
- That can’t be Tim. He’s at school now. (I’m sure he isn’t Tim.)
6. Can is used to make suggestions:
- We can go together to the book fair.
- We can eat out today if you like.
Could /Could not
Could meaning: Could has different meanings. (Could synonym)
1. Could = knew how to, was/were able to
- I could swim when I was a child.
- She could ride a horse when she was 12 years old.
2. Couldn’t = wasn’t/weren’t able to
- I couldn’t attend yesterday’s meeting. I was sick.
- She couldn t finish her work. She got tired.
- I tried to carry that box, but I couldn’t.
3. Could is used to make a polite request.
- Could you open the door, please?
- Could you please pass me the salt? (= Could you pass me the salt, please?)
4. Could and couldn’t can be used in the second conditional.
- If I were you, I could do this online course to improve my English.
5. Could is used to express a wish.
- I wish I could come to your party. (= I want to attend your party, but I can’t)
- I wish I could be there with you.