Modal Verbs



In this lesson, we will learn about modal verbs and how they may be used.

Related Topics:
More English Lessons


Verbs have different forms, called tenses. The tense of a verb tells us when the action happens.

Modal verbs are a special kind of auxiliary or helping verb. A modal verb helps the main verb to express the mood of the subject and at the same time it can indicate possibility, persuasion, ability, willingness, etc.

Examples of modal verbs are

Can
Could
May
Might
Must
Should
Will
Would

 

Modal verbs can be used before a verb in simple form.

Examples:

I can swim.
We must hurry.
Birds can fly.





Some model verbs have another modal verb as a past form.

Present

Past

can

could

may

might

will

would

Examples:

I can swim quite well now, but last year I could not swim at all.
He said he would come early.
Simon could read before he started school.
I thought you might like this present.

 

Modal verbs can be used with the present perfect tense

Can
Could
May
Might
Must
Should
Will
Would

 

+ have

 

 

+ past participle

Examples:

You should have come with us.
He could have become a dentist.
We would have missed the bus.
She may have finished the work.
She might have finished the work.
They must have been busy.





Modal Verbs can be used in the continuous form.

Could
May
Might
Must
Should
Will

 

+ be

 

 

+ present participle

Examples:

I could be living in New York.
She should be staying at home.
He will be working this weekend.
He might be driving now.
They must be getting ready for the trip.

 

To make the past tense use have been after the modal verb.

Could
May
Might
Must
Should
Would

 

+ have been

 

 

+ present participle

Examples:

I could have been living in New York.
She should have been staying at home.
He would have been working this weekend.
He might have been driving that night.
They must have been getting ready for the trip.



Videos

Modal Verbs in English
The following video lists modal verbs and briefly explains their use.

Modal verbs can be used with the present perfect tense.
This indicates that some past action did or did not happen, or it possibly did or did not happen.



Modal Verb + Continuous Form
Some modals can be put in front of the continuous form to express some present action that is or isn't happening.
To make the past tense for each, use "have been" instead of "be."



Modal verbs in the passive voice follow this pattern: Modal + be + past participle.
There are many possibilities with modal verbs. This video gives a basic description of how to use them in the passive voice.







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