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Modal Verbs

Modal Verbs

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Published by mg_teacher
An extense list of the Modal Auxiliary verbs, and examples on how to use them
An extense list of the Modal Auxiliary verbs, and examples on how to use them

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Published by: mg_teacher on Jul 25, 2009
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06/24/2013

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- Modal Verbs -
Can
"Can" is one of the most commonly used modal verbs in English. It can be used to express ability or opportunity, to request or offer permission, and to show possibility or impossibility.Examples:
I can ride a horse.
 ABILITY 
 
We can stay with my brother when we are in Paris.
OPPORTUNITY 
 
She cannot stay out after 10 PM.
PERMISSION 
 
Can you hand me the stapler?
REQUEST 
 
Any child can grow up to be president.
POSSIBILITY 
 
Using "Can" in Present, Past, and Future
Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "can" behaves indifferent contexts.
Modal Use Positive Forms1. = Present 2. = Past3. = FutureNegative Forms1. = Present 2. = Past 3.= FutureYou can also use:can
GENERAL
 
 ABILITY 
 1. I can speak Chinese.
2. SHIFT TO "COULD"I could speak Chinese when I wasa kid.3. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"I will be able to speak Chinese bythe time I finish my course.
1. I can't speak Swahili.
2. SHIFT TO "COULD"I couldn't speak Swahili.3. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"I won't be able to speak Swahili.
be able tocan
 ABILITY 
 
DURING
 
 A
 
SPECIFIC 
 
EVENT 
 1. With a burst of adrenaline, people canpick up cars.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"With a sudden burst of adrenaline, he was able to lift thecar off the child's leg.3. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"With a sudden burst of adrenaline, he will be able to liftthe car.
1. Even with a burst of adrenaline, people can'tpick up something thatheavy.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"Even the weight lifter, couldn't lift thecar off the child's leg.3. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"Even three men working together won't be able to lift the car.
be able tocan
OPPORTUNITY 
 1. I have some free time.I can help her now.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"I had some free time yesterday. Iwas able to help her at that time.3. I'll have some free timetomorrow. I can help her then.
1. I don't have any time. Ican't help her now.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ABLE TO"I didn't have time yesterday. I wasn'table to help her at that time.3. I won't have any time later. I can'thelp her then.
be able tocan 1. I can drive Susan's car 1. I can't drive Susan's car may
1
 
PERMISSION 
 when she is out of town.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED TO "I was allowed to drive Susan's car while she was out of town lastweek.3. I can drive Susan's car whileshe is out of town next week.
when she is out of town.
2. SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED TO "I wasn't allowed to drive Susan's car while she was out of town last week.3. I can't drive Susan's car while sheis out of town next week.
can
REQUEST 
 Can I have a glass of water?
Can you give me a lift to school?
EQUESTS 
 
USUALLY 
 
REFER 
 
TO
 
THE 
 
NEAR 
 
FUTURE 
.
Can't I have a glass of water?
Can't you give me a lift to school?
EQUESTS 
 
USUALLY 
 
REFER 
 
TO
 
THE 
 
NEAR 
 
FUTURE 
.
could, maycan
POSSIBILITY 
,
IMPOSSIBILITY 
 
Anyone can become richand famous if they knowthe right people.
Learning a language can be areal challenge.
HIS 
 
USE 
 
IS 
 
USUALLY 
 
 A
 
GENERALIZATION 
 
OR 
 
 A
 
SUPPOSITION 
.
It can't cost more than adollar or two.
You can't be 45! I thought you wereabout 18 years old.
HIS 
 
USE 
 
IS 
 
USUALLY 
 
 A
 
GENERALIZATION 
 
OR 
 
 A
 
SUPPOSITION 
.
could
Could
"Could" is used to express possibility or past ability as well as to make suggestions and requests. "Could" is also commonlyused inconditionalsentences as the conditional form of "can."Examples:
Extreme rain could cause the river to flood the city.
POSSIBILITY 
 
Nancy could ski like a pro by the age of 11.
PAST 
 
 ABILITY 
 
You could see a movie or go out to dinner.
SUGGESTION 
 
Could I use your computer to email my boss?
REQUEST 
 
We could go on the trip if I didn't have to work this weekend.
CONDITIONAL
 
Using "Could" in Present, Past, and Future
Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "could" behaves indifferent contexts.
Modal Use Positive Forms1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =FutureNegative Forms1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =FutureYou canalso use:could
POSSIBILITY 
 1. John could be the one whostole the money.
2. John could have been the one who stole
1. Mary couldn't be the one whostole the money.
2. Mary couldn't have been the one who
might,may
2
 
the money.3. John could go to jail for stealing themoney.stole the money.3. Mary couldn't possibly go to jail for thecrime.
could
CONDITIONAL
 
OF 
 
CAN 
 1. If I had more time, I couldtravel around the world.
2. If I had had more time, I could havetraveled around the world.3. If I had more time this winter, I couldtravel around the world.
1. Even if I had more time, Icouldn't travel around the world.
2. Even if I had had more time, I couldn'thave traveled around the world.3. Even if I had more time this winter, Icouldn't travel around the world.
could
SUGGESTION 
 1. NO PRESENT FORM
2. You could have spent your vacation inHawaii.3. You could spend your vacation in Hawaii.
NO NEGATIVE FORMScould
PAST 
 
 ABILITY 
 I could run ten miles in mytwenties.
I could speak Chinese when I was a kid.
"C 
OULD
CANNOT 
 
BE 
 
USED
 
IN 
 
POSITIVE 
 
SENTENCES 
 
IN 
 
WHICH 
 
YOU 
 
DESCRIBE 
 
 A
 
MOMENTARY 
 
OR 
 
ONE 
-
TIME 
 
 ABILITY 
.
Yesterday, I could lift the couch by myself.
Not Correct 
 
I couldn't run more than a mile inmy twenties.
I couldn't speak Swahili.
"C 
OULD
CAN 
 
BE 
 
USED
 
IN 
 
NEGATIVE 
 
SENTENCES 
 
IN 
 
WHICH 
 
YOU 
 
DESCRIBE 
 
 A
 
MOMENTARY 
 
OR 
 
ONE 
-
TIME 
 
 ABILITY 
.
Yesterday, I couldn't lift the couch bymyself.
Correct 
 
be able tocould
POLITE 
 
REQUEST 
 Could I have something todrink?
Could I borrow your stapler?
EQUESTS 
 
USUALLY 
 
REFER 
 
TO
 
THE 
 
NEAR 
 
FUTURE 
.
Couldn't he come with us?
Couldn't you help me with this for just asecond?
EQUESTS 
 
USUALLY 
 
REFER 
 
TO
 
THE 
 
NEAR 
 
FUTURE 
.
can,may,might
REMEMBER: "Could not" vs. "Might not""Could not" suggests that it is impossible for something to happen. "Might not" suggests you do not know if somethinghappens.Examples:
Jack might not have the key.
 AYBE 
 
HE 
 
DOES 
 
NOT 
 
HAVE 
 
THE 
 
KEY 
.
 
Jack could not have the key.
 
IS 
 
IMPOSSIBLE 
 
THAT 
 
HE 
 
HAS 
 
THE 
 
KEY 
.
Have To
"Have to" is used to express certainty, necessity, and obligation.Examples:
This answer has to be correct.
CERTAINTY 
 
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