Modal Verbs

Polite Requests and
 Modals are a small class of auxiliary verbs
 An auxiliary verb is a verb that adds
functional or grammatical meaning to
the clause in which it
 Modals behave very irregularly:
 don’t take -s in 3
person singular, present
 many modals cannot be used in future or
past tenses
 He will can go with us. Not Correct

Forming past:
 Modal + past + past participle
 I might have showed you this piece of
work before. – uncertainty in the past
 You should have been there when I
came. – expressing regret, discontent,
failed expectations
 I can’t find my purse. I could have left it in
the supermarket but I just don’t know. -
Forming past, cont.
 You can’t have read the instructions
properly. They’re perfectly clear. – past
ability (inability, in this case); we are sure
something did not happen.
Sentence formation
 In statements, the word order is subject +
modal + main verb
Tom and Sue might arrive later.
 In questions, the word order changes to
modal + subject + main verb.
Should Mike drive?
 Wh-questions
 How could he walk?
Sentence formation:
 When forming negative statements, the
negative adverb not is placed between
the modal verb and the main verb.
 They should not drive at night.
 When asking questions in the negative,
the modal verb and a negative adverb
not are always contractions.
 Shouldn’t you rest?
Use of modals
 Modals are used to express the subjective
attitudes and opinions of the speaker
 necessity or obligation: must, have to,
have got to
 advisability: should, ought to, had better,
 ability and permission: can, could, may,
 instructions and requests: Could you,
Would you

General features of modals
 Modal verbs are invariable: one form for
all the persons and tenses
i.e. : no –s in the third person singular

*She musts study.
She must study
General features of modals:
 Modals do not need the “do support” in
negative and interrogative sentences.

*You don’t should tell him.
You shouldn’t tell him.
Can you swim?
General features of modals
 They are followed by an infinitive without

Incorrect Correct
*You must to go. You must go.

*You shouldn’t eating so much
You shouldn’t eat so much.
Polite Requests with “I”
May I ... ?

Could I ... ?
May I (please) borrow your

Could I borrow your pen
May I and Could I are used to request permission.
They are equally polite.

Polite Requests with “I”
Can I is used informally to request permission,
especially if the speaker is talking to someone
s/he knows well. Can is less polite than May I or
Could I.

Can I ... ? Can I borrow your pen?
Polite Requests with “You”
The meaning of would you and will you in a
polite request is the same. Would you is more
common and is often considered more polite..

Would You ... ?

Will you ... ?
Would you pass the salt

Will you (please) pass the
 To express that someone has the power or
skill to do something, can and be able are
Can you…?

Are you able to…?
Can you play basketball?

Are you able to swim?
Questions About Abilities
 What can you do? Where did you learn
how to do it?

 What can’t you do?

 What do you hope you will be able to do
in 10 years?

 Ask your classmates a question with “can”

Can you…?
Are you able to…?
3 4
Match The Words
1. Juggle
2. Barbeque
3. Tango
4. Accordion
5. Whistle
6. Deck (of cards)
7. To Balance
A. To hold an object in the center and
keep it still.
B. An instrument with keys and buttons.
C. To keep (two or more objects) in the
air at one time by alternately tossing
and catching them.
D. To blow air out of your mouth in a
way that makes a loud, high-
pitched noise.
E. To cook food outside on a grill
F. A romantic dance that is popular in
Latin America.
G. A pack of 52 playing cards