You are on page 1of 3

USE OF ENGLISH Modal Verbs (December 2013)

ABILITY: She could swim when she was five = She was able to swim when she was five He managed to reach Brighton before midnight = He was able to reach Brighton before midnight POSSIBILITY: He may / might / could come tomorrow = Perhaps he will come tomorrow = Its likely / possible that he will come tomorrow He may / might / could know the answer = Maybe he knows the answer = He is likely to know the answer Can / could / might he succeed? = Is he likely to succeed? = Is it likely / possible that he will succeed? PERMISSION: They allowed him to enter the building = They let him enter the building Can / could / may I ask you a question? ADVICE: You should / ought to stop smoking = You had better stop smoking = Its (high / about) time you stopped smoking Shall I wear this dress? = Do you think I should wear this dress? CERTAINTY / DEDUCTION: They must be at home = Im sure they are at home He cant be over thirty = Im sure he isnt over 30 = Its impossible he is over thirty You couldnt have broken the windowpane = I dont think you broke the windowpane

SUGGESTION: Shall we go to the park? = We could / can go to the park if you like Lets go to the park = How / What about going to the park? = Why dont we go to the park? ABSENCE OF NECESSITY It isnt necessary for you to give him a present = You neednt give him a present = You dont have to give him a present It wasnt necessary for him to buy the milk = He neednt have bought the milk = He didnt have to buy the milk OBLIGATION / NECESSITY He is obliged to do shift works = He must do shift work = He has to do shift work You must dress smartly to work here = Its essential that you dress smartly to work here. My car needs repairing = My car needs to be repaired = Its necessary for my car to be repaired. PROHIBITION You mustnt enter the room = Its forbidden that you enter the room = Your entering the room is not permitted. You cant wait here = You arent allowed to wait here REQUESTS Could / Can you prepare some tea, please? = Would you mind preparing some tea, please? = Will / Would you prepare some tea, please? = Would you be so kind as to prepare some tea? OFFERS Shall/Can I/we help you? = Would you like me/us to help you? PREFERENCES She doesnt want me to leave now = She would rather I didnt leave now = She would rather I left later I prefer driving to flying = I prefer driving rather than flying = I would rather drive than fly

PRACTICE 1. She was able to play the guitar when she was eight years old. (COULD) I was told to work late at the office yesterday. (HAVE TO) 3. Those bags look heavy. Let me help you. (CAN) You worry too much. My advice to you is Relax. (SHOULD)

2.

4.

5.

Its not a good idea to eat so much chocolate. (SHOULD) I insist you say sorry to him. (MUST) It isnt possible for me to meet you this evening. (CAN) There is a possibility of better weather tomorrow. (MIGHT) Ive finished my exams. It isnt necessary for me to study any more. (HAVE TO)

21. This definitely isnt the restaurant we ate at. (CAN) 22. Maybe this is the house were looking for. (COULD) 23. I want to leave the room. (MAY) 24. Please help me with my bags. (WOULD) 25. You are not allowed to smoke in this building. (MUST) 26. Saturday tomorrow! It isnt necessary for me to get up early. (HAVE TO) 27. She is able to play the guitar really well. (CAN) 28. Why dont we have a quiet evening at home? (SHALL) 29. She is an excellent guitarist but a terrible singer. (CAN) 30. My advice to you is Dont be pessimistic! (SHOULD) 31. Is it all right if I use the phone? (MAY)

6. 7.

8.

9.

10. Oh no! Are you going to leave the party so soon? (HAVE TO) 11. I dont believe thats the right answer. (CAN) 12. I think youd better get some medical advice. (SHOULD) 13. Why use the car? Why dont you cycle to work? (COULD) 14. I think its a good idea for everybody to eat less meat. (SHOULD) 15. It was impossible to understand a word he said. (COULD) 16. It necessary for Irish people to take a passport to enter Britain. (HAVE TO) 17. Our family went to the seaside every summer but not any more. (USED TO) 18. Im certain Tim has gone home. His jackets not here. (MUST) 19. What about going to Pizza Express this evening? (SHALL) 20. Im sure this is the restaurant we ate at. (MUST) MORE PRACTICE 1. I'm sure John locked the office before leaving. He always does = John 2. If I were you I would tell him the truth. = You

32. I wanted to go to the party but it was raining hard. (COULD) 33. School uniform is not compulsory in my school. (HAVE TO) 34. It is possible for everyone to do this exercise. (BE ABLE TO) 35. It isnt necessary for you to do any more exercises today. (HAVE TO)

4. Ann finished the project on her own although it wasn't necessary to do so. = Ann 5. It was a mistake to sell the house. I wish I hadn't. = I 6. Perhaps we'll go swimming tomorrow. = We

3. It isn't necessary for her to phone me back = She

7. I think Mary is probably at home because the windows are open = Mary

8. Perhaps John knew about the trip, but I'm not sure. = John 9. I'm sure he didn't lock the door. He never does. = He 10. Perhaps she was at work when the earthquake struck. = She 11. Perhaps we'll rent our house in summer. = We 12. It's absolutely necessary that we finish the article today. = We 13 It wasn't necessary for him to behave like that. = He 14. You cannot smoke in the underground; it's forbidden. = You 15. It's quite possible that they went away last weekend. = They 16. I'm sure Ann didn't send that letter. = Ann 18. It is essential that we talk before the meeting starts. = We 19. I don't think Ann robbed the bank. It's impossible = Ann 20. Why don't we go on a camping trip? = How

25. It's impossible that they knew about the trip; nobody told them = Im sure 26. If I were you I'd do some more exercises.= You had 27. Perhaps I go on holiday to Menorca. = Its possible 28. It was a mistake to take the car. If only I hadn't! = I 29. I'm sure something is happening tonight. Look at those preparations!= Something 30. It's compulsory for all students to attend lessons = All students 31. It's possible that they move to Australia. = They are 32. I'm sure Helen knows about the accident. She looks very unhappy = Helen 33. Perhaps he hired a van. = He 34. You are not allowed to use the phone without permission = You 35. If I were you I wouldn't trust John. = Youd 36. I'm sure she didn't take the key. = She 37. Perhaps I start a new career. = I am

21. Let's go to Diagonal Mar! = What 22. Perhaps they told John about the party, but I'm not sure. = Its 23. It isn't necessary for us to book a table; I know one of the waiters = We 24. It's forbidden to drive without fastening your seatbelt = You mustnt 38. It was not necessary for you to tell Jan what really happened = You 39. I regret selling the house. = I 40. It's compulsory for all visitors to show their ID card = All visitors