Modal: Modal Verbs, Modal auxiliary, Modal Exercises for English Grammar

Modal: Modal Verbs, Modal auxiliary, Modal Exercises for English Grammar

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 29, 2017 11:58:37 PM

Grammar Rules with 12 Tips on using Modal Verb

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Modal Verb:

Modals are type of Auxiliary verbs that expresses the mood or attitude of the speaker and they give additional information about the function of the main verb.

The modal verbs are: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to, dare and need to.


a)    Are followed directly by bare infinitive or the infinitive of another verb (without 'to’).

b)    Don’t take non-finite forms (to can, must ing)

c)    Form negative directly (can't, mustn't).

d)    Form inversion/interrogation without ‘DO’ (can I? must I?).

e)    Don’t take -s form for third-person singular (cans, musts).

f)     No co-occurrence (She may will come tomorrow.)

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Tips on using Modal Verbs:

Tip#1: Can

Used to express ability or opportunity, to request or offer permission, and to show possibility or impossibility.

a)    Ability: I can speak English

b)    Request: Can you please lend me a pen?

c)    Permission/ Offer: Can I leave now? (Seeking Permission) / Can I help you? (Offer)

d)    Order/Prohibition: You can leave now. (Order or giving Permission) / You can’t enter the room now. (Prohibition)

e)    Possibility: Smoking can cause cancer.

Tip#2: Could

Used to express possibility or past ability as well as to make suggestions and requests.

a)    Possibility (followed by ‘be’): This news could be true.

b)    Request: Could you tell me the way to airport please?

c)    Permission: Could I use your phone?

d)    Past Ability (Could + have – indicates the action did not take place in the past): You could have have drowned in the sea. (But you didn’t drown)

e)    Conditional of ‘Can’: If I had more time, I could travel around the world.

Tip#3: Will

Used to make predictions and with promises or voluntary actions that take place in the future.

a)    Future Tense Auxiliary (followed by ‘be’): Tomorrow I will be in Chennai.

b)    Invitation/Offers: Will you like to join us for coffee?

c)    Promise: I will call you every day.

d)    Prediction: He thinks it will rain tomorrow.

e)    Belief (Will + have to): We will have to take the train as we are running 15 minutes late.

f)     Conditionals (will with ‘If’ and won’t with ‘Unless’): I’ll give her a call if I can find her number.

Tip#4: Would

Used to express habit, wish and create the past form of the modal verb "will” and conditional tense.

a)    Polite Request: Would you please help me open the door?

b)    Wish: I would like eat rice for dinner.

c)    Past of ‘Will’: I knew that she would be very successful in her career.

d)    Habit: They would always have picnics at the beach.

e)    Conditionals: (would have in past conditionals to talk about something that did not happen): He would have been very angry if he had seen you.

Tip#5: Shall

Used to indicate future action or suggestion and is most commonly used in sentences with "I" or "we“.

a)    Future Action: I shall be there by 8:00.

b)    Suggestion: Shall we move into the living room?

c)    Promising/Volunteering: I shall make the travel arrangements.

d)    Predestination: Man shall explore the distant regions of the universe.

Tip#6: Should

Used to make recommendations, give advice, and express obligation as well as expectation.

a)    Duty/Obligation: We should return the books before the library closes.

b)    Recommendation: People with high cholesterol should eat low-fat foods.

c)    Expectation: Sunil should be in New Delhi by now. 

d)    Past Obligation (Should + have): You should have stood by your brother during his difficult times.

e)    Deduction: Jerome has practiced all week. He should be ready for his match today.

Tip#7: May

Used to express possibility, give or seek permission in present or future.

a)    Possibility: The chairman may come to visit our office tomorrow.

b)    Wish/Prayer: May God bless you!

c)    Purpose: She works hard so that she may pass.

d)    Seek Permission: May I make a phone call?

e)    Give Permission: You may make a phone call.

Tip#8: Might

Used to express possibility and is also often used in conditional sentences.

a)    Possibility: I might see you tomorrow.

b)    Remote or Slight Possibility: We might win a lottery but I doubt it.

c)    Conditional of ‘May’: If I entered the contest, I might actually win.

d)    Suggestion: You might try the cheesecake.

Tip#9: Must

Used to express certainty, necessity, obligation, prohibition or strong recommendation.

a)    Necessity/ Obligation: You must follow the instructions.

b)    Strong Possibility: You haven’t eaten all day. You must be hungry.

c)    Determination: I must help him.

d)    Deduction: He owns a big house. He must be rich.

e)    Certainty: This must be the right address!

Tip#10: Ought To

Used to express correct action and strong sense of moral duty, advice, recommendations, assumption or expectation

a)    Moral Duty/ Obligation: You ought to to serve your motherland.

b)    Advice/Recommendation: You ought to stop smoking.

c)    Probability: This gold price ought to rise in value.

d)    Expectation/Deserve: Rahul ought to get the promotion.

Tip#11: Need & Need Not

Used commonly in questions and negatives to express necessity.

a)    Negative: He need not wait any longer.

b)    Questions (usually used in questions without ‘not’):

Need he wait any longer?

No, he need not. (‘Need not’ is used when the answer is negative)

Yes, he need must. (‘Must’ is used when the answer is affirmative)

c)    With Minimizing Adverbs (hardly, only, barely): He need only say what he wants and it will be granted.

d)    Need not + have: (when an action was not necessary but was performed in past): He need not have lost his temper.

Tip#12: Dare & Dare Not

Used commonly in questions and negatives to express shock or outrage

a)    Negative: He dare not/daren’t do such a thing.

b)    Questions (usually used in questions without ‘not’): How dare you contradict me?

c)    Perhaps/Possibility: I dare say he will agree to our proposal.

Note: (When Dare is used as auxiliary verb, ‘-s’ is not taken in the third person singular.)

 He dares not abuse his rivals.

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Spot the Errors:

Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Present Tense.


She cans help you this afternoon. (Incorrect)

She can help you this afternoon. (Correct)


I can be able to come with you for the trip next week. (Incorrect)

I will (I’ll) be able to come with you for the trip next week. (Correct)


Yesterday, I can lift the couch by myself. (Incorrect)

Yesterday, I was able to lift the couch by myself. (Correct)


I think he could not come with us to the party. (Incorrect)

I think he might not come with us to the party. (Correct)


You won’t get in if you not have a ticket. (Incorrect)

You won’t get in unless you have a ticket. (Correct)


If I had the money I will buy a new car. (Incorrect)

If I had the money I'd (would) buy a new car. (Correct)


Peter will not eat broccoli when he was a kid. (Incorrect)

Peter wouldn’t eat broccoli when he was a kid. (Correct)


He needs not wait here. We will call him once the doctor is ready. (Incorrect)

He need not wait here. We will call him once the doctor is ready. (Correct)


Could we begin the meeting now? (Incorrect)

Shall we begin the meeting now? (Correct)


Might you live long! (Incorrect)

May you live long! (Correct)


Julie said she may come for dinner. (Incorrect)

Julie said she might come for dinner. (Correct)


Did I not tell you that I shall qualify? (Incorrect)

Did I not tell you that I would qualify? (Correct)


You might not trespass. (Incorrect)

You must not trespass. (Correct)


She ought to not take such risks while skiing. (Incorrect)

She ought not take such risks while skiing. (Correct)


Need not I come again? (Incorrect)

Need I come again? (Correct)


He dares not accept the challenge. (Incorrect)

He dare not accept the challenge. (Correct)


Any child will grow up to become Prime Minister of the country. (Incorrect)

Any child can grow up to become Prime Minister of the country. (Correct)


Do I help you? (Incorrect)

Shall I help you? (Correct)


I willing make dinner tonight. (Incorrect)

I will make dinner tonight/ I will be making dinner tonight. (Correct)


I shall inviting them. (Incorrect)

I shall invite them. (Correct)

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Modal: Modal Verbs, Modal auxiliary, Modal Exercises for English Grammar


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