Verbs: Modals

Subject: English

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Overview

This note explains about the verb modals .

Verbs: Modals

Introduction

You may take these books home.

They must attend tomorrow's meeting.

You should regularly go for a morning walk.

May I use your pencil, please?

In these sentences, the parts of the verb are in bold letters which are called modal. They are so called because they help to express the mood or attitude of the speaker. A verb used to express the mood or attitude of a speaker is called a modal.

Important points of modal verbs

  • Normally modal verbs are followed by a main verb. In question tags, however, they can be used alone.
  • Modal verbs always have the same form.
  • The main verb used after a modalverb is always in the root form. Present participle, past and past participle form of a verb are never used with a modalverb.

Permission: may, can and could

May, can and could are used to suggest permission. Can is informal. May is polite. Could is more polite than may.The proper modalverb to be used depends upon persons involved and the situation.e.g.

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May I go to the library, Madam?

Can I use your book, Ram?

Sir, could you grant me two days' leave?

Ability: can, could, be able to

The idea of ability is expressed by can. In this sense, can means: be able to, be capable of, know how to. Ability in the past is expressed by could can and could also suggest opportunity.e.g.

Upendra can keep wickets.

Upendra could keep wickets.

Upendra was able to keep wickets.

Possibility: may, might, could

May suggest a good possibility:

Don't worry. Your purse may be in your bag.

Might suggest a weak possibility and could a still weaker possibility. Could also expresses a very weak possibility in the future. e.g.

I am glad she could come yesterday. ( ability in the past )

She could come tomorrow. (a very weak possibility in the future)

Suggestion, advice, duty (obligation): should, ought to

Should is used to express suggestion or advice :
Should we start packing the luggage? (suggestion)
You should try to reduce your weight. (advice)

Ought to is a little stronger than should. It suggests that something is the right thing to do. It also conveys a sense of duty.
You ought to take care of your old parents. (moral duty)

Promise: will, shall

Will and shall are used to suggest promise. Normally we use shall with only first personsubjects and will with other persons. e.g.

We will attend your brother's marriage. ( It is our promise )

You shall get a new bat on your birthday. ( It is my promise )

Intention: will, shall

Will and shall in their normal usage suggest intention or willingness:

I shall ring you up in the evening. ( intention )

They will gladly cooperate. ( willingness )

Request: would, won't, can, could

Would you buy me some woollens, please? ( polite request )

Could you switch on the fan? ( polite request, uncertain )

Can I have some tea? (informal request)

Won't you have something to eat? (Have something to eat)

Necessity, compulsion: must, have to, had to, have got to, will have to

I am getting late. I must take a taxi. (necessity)

In the army, you have to clean your shoes yourself. (compulsion)

I have got to finish this work by evening.(necessity/compulsion)

Must, have to

Must suggests the desire of the speaker. Have to suggestexternal compulsion:

You must pay the dues on time.

In the army, you have to clean your shoes yourself.

Needn't suggests that there is no necessity or compulsion:

He needn'tgo to the doctor.

You needn't get up so early.

Prohibition: must not, ought not to

Cars must not be parked in front of the gate. (It is prohibited to park cars in front of the gate.)

You ought not to make fun of an old man. (As a duty, you should not make fun of an old man.)

Wish: may

May is normally used to express a wish:

May you live long!

May God bless you with a son.

Dare

I daren't climb that tall tree.

The child dared not complain

Dare you challenge him to fight? No, I daren't.

In the above sentences, dare has been used as a modal verb and it means not to be afraid to do something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to remember

Verbs: Modals

  • Important points of modal verbs
  • Permission: may, can and could
  • Ability: can, could, be able to
  • Possibility: may, might, could
  • Suggestion, advice, duty (obligation): should, ought to
  • Promise: will, shall
  • Intention: will, shall
  • Request: would, won't, can, could
  • Necessity, compulsion: must, have to, had to, have got to, will have to
  • Must, have to
  • Prohibition: must not, ought not to
  • Wish: may
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.

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