modal_verb_tutorial by wanghonghx

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									Modal Verb Tutorial


Modals are special verbs which behave very irregularly in English.

What are Modal Verbs ?

Modal verbs are special verbs which behave very differently from normal verbs. Here are some important differences:

1. Modal verbs do not take "-s" in the third person.

EXAMPLES:
He can speak Chinese.
She should be here by 9:00.

2. You use "not" to make modal verbs negative, even in Simple Present and Simple Past.

EXAMPLES:
He should not be late.
They might not come to the party.

3. Many modal verbs cannot be used in the past tenses or the future tenses.

EXAMPLES:
He will can go with us. NOT CORRECT
She musted study very hard. NOT CORRECT



Common Modal Verbs
Can                            Ought to
Could                          Shall
May                            Should
Might                          Will
Must                           Would

IMPORTANT: For the purposes of this tutorial, we have included some expressions which are not modal verbs including
had better, have to and have got to. These expressions are closely related to modals in meaning and are often
interchanged with them.
                                                          Can

                   1. Present
                                                                                                                   You can
Modal Use          2. Past                                         Negative Forms
                                                                                                                   also use:
                   3. Future
                   1. I can speak Chinese
                                                                   1. I can't speak Swahili.
                   2. SHIFTS TO "COULD"
                                                                   2. SHIFTS TO "COULD"
can                I could speak Chinese when I was a kid.
                                                                   I couldn't speak Swahili.                       to be able
general ability
                   3. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                                                                   3. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                   I will be able to speak Chinese by the time I
                                                                   I won't be able to speak Swahili.
                   finish my course.
                   1. With a burst of adrenaline, people can
                                                                   1. People can't pick up cars.
                   pick up cars.
                                                                   2. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                   2. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
can                                                                Even the weight lifter, couldn't lift the car
                   With a sudden burst of adrenaline, he was
ability during a                                                   off the child's leg.                            to be able
                   able to lift the car off the child's leg.
specific event
                                                                 3. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                   3. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                                                                 Even three men working together won't be
                   With a sudden burst of adrenaline, he will be
                                                                 able to lift the car.
                   able to lift the car.
                                                                   1. I don't have any time. I can't help her
                   1. I have some free time. I can help her now.
                                                                   now.
                   2. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
                                                                   2. SHIFTS TO "BE ABLE TO"
can                I had some free time yesterday. I was able
                                                                   I didn't have time yesterday. I wasn't able to be able
opportunity        to help her at that time.
                                                                   to help her at that time.
                   3. I'll have some free time tomorrow. I can
                                                                   3. I won't have any time later. I can't help
                   help her then.
                                                                   her then.
                   1. I can drive Susan's car when she is out of 1. I can't drive Susan's car when she is
                   town.                                         out of town.

                   2. SHIFTS TO "BE ALLOWED"                    2. SHIFTS TO "BE ALLOWED"
can
                   I was allowed to drive Susan's car while she I wasn't allowed to drive Susan's car while may
permission
                   was out of town last week.                   she was out of town last week.

                   3. I can drive Susan's car while she is out of 3. I can't drive Susan's car while she is
                   town next week.                                out of town next week.
                                                                   Can't I have a glass of water?
                   Can I have a glass of water?
can                                                                Can't you give me a lift to school?             could
                   Can you give me a lift to school?
request                                                                                                            may
                                                                   (Requests usually refer to the near
                   (Requests usually refer to the near future.)
                                                                   future.)
                   Anyone can become rich and famous if they
                                                             It can't cost more than a dollar or two.
                   know the right people.
can                                                                You can't be 45! I thought you were about
                   Learning a language can be a real
possibility /                                                      18 years old.                             could
                   challenge.
impossibility
                                                                    (This use is usually a generalization or an
                   (This use is usually a generalization or an
                                                                   supposition.)
                   supposition.)
                                                              Could




               1. Present
                                                                                                                     You can
Modal Use      2. Past                                          Negative Forms
                                                                                                                     also use:
               3. Future
               1. John could be the one who stole the           1. Mary couldn't be the one who stole the
               money.                                           money.

could          2. John could have been the one who stole        2. Mary couldn't have been the one who stole         might,
possibility    the money.                                       the money.                                           may

               3. John could be charged with the crime          3. Mary couldn't possibly be charged with the
               when the police finish the investigation.        crime after the police examine the evidence.
               1. If I had more time, I could travel around the 1. Even if I had more time, I couldn't travel
               world.                                           around the world.
could
             2. If I had had more time, I could have            2. Even if I had had more time, I couldn't have
conditional
             traveled around the world.                         traveled around the world.
(can, could)
               3. If I had more time this winter, I could travel 3. Even if I had more time this winter, I could
               around the world.                                 travel around the world.
               1. NO PRESENT FORM

               2. You could have spent your vacation in
could
               Hawaii.                                           NO NEGATIVE FORMS
suggestion
               3. You could spend your vacation in Hawaii.

               I could run ten miles in my twenties.            I couldn't run more than a mile in my twenties.
could
                                                                                                                     be able to
past ability
               I could speak Chinese when I was a kid.          I couldn't speak Swahili.
               Could I have something to drink?                 Couldn't he come with us?
could                                                                                                             can,
polite         Could borrow your stapler?                       Couldn't you help me with this for just a second? may,
request                                                                                                           might
               (Requests usually refer to the near future.)     (Requests usually refer to the near future.)

                                                           Had Better

                   1. Present
                                                                                                                    You can also
Modal Use          2. Past                                          Negative Forms
                                                                                                                    use:
                   3. Future
                   1. SHIFT TO "SHOULD" OR "OUGHT TO"               1. SHIFT TO "SHOULD" OR "OUGHT TO"
                   People should unplug toasters before they        People shouldn't clean toasters without
                   clean them.                                      unplugging them first.

had better     2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD" OR "OUGHT TO"                   2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD" OR "OUGHT TO" should,
recommendation You should have unplugged the toaster                You shouldn't have cleaned the toaster ought to
               before you tried to clean it.                        without unplugging it first.

                   3. You had better unplug the toaster before      3. You had better not clean the toaster until
                   you try to clean it.                             you unplug it.
had better      The movie had better end soon.                      They had better not be late.
desperate hope/
warning         They had better be here before we start             They had better not forget Tom's birthday
                    dinner.                                          gift.

                    (Desperate hopes and warnings usually            (Desperate hopes and warnings usually
                    refer to the near future.)                       refer to the near future.)


"Had better" is often simply pronounced as "better" in spoken English.

                                                               Have to

                                                                                                                          You
          1. Present
                                                                                                                          can
Modal Use 2. Past                                                Negative Forms
                                                                                                                          also
          3. Future
                                                                                                                          use:
                                                             1. SHIFTS TO "MUST"
              1. That has to be Jerry. They said he was tall That must not have been Jerry we saw. He was
              with bright red hair.                          supposed to have red hair.
                                                                                                                   must,
have to
              2. That has to have been the right restaurant. 2. SHIFTS TO "MUST"                                   have
certainty
              There are no other restaurants on this street. That must not have been the right restaurant. I guess got to
                                                             there is another one around here somewhere.
              3. NONE
                                                             3. NONE
                                                                 1. She doesn't have to read "Grapes of Wrath." It's
              1. She has to read four books for this
                                                                 optional reading for extra credit.
              literature class.
                                                                 2. She didn't have to write a critique of "The Scarlet
have to       2. She had to finish the first book before the
                                                                 Letter." She had to give a presentation to her class.    must
necessity     midterm.
                                                                 3. She won't have to take any other literature
              3. She will have to finish the other books
                                                                 classes. American Literature 101 is the only required
              before the final exam.
                                                                 course.
              1. I don't have to take any tests. The course is
              just for fun.
don't have
to
           2. I didn't have to take the test. The teacher
choice/
           let me do a report instead.
no
obligation
           3. I won't have to take the test. It's going to be
           for extra credit and I don't need the points.


REMEMBER: "Do not have to" vs. "Must not"
"Do not have to" suggests that someone is not required to do something. "Must not" suggests that you are prohibited from
doing something.

                                                           Have Got to

               1. Present
                                                                                                                       You can
Modal Use      2. Past                                                                Negative Forms
                                                                                                                       also use:
               3. Future
                                                                                  1. SHIFT TO "DON'T HAVE
               1. People have got to be on time if they want to get a seat in the TO"
               crowded theater.                                                   People don't have to be there
                                                                                  on time to get a seat.
               2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
have got to                                                                                                     have to,
               You had to be on time if you wanted to get a seat in the crowded 2. SHIFT TO "DON'T HAVE
necessity                                                                                                       must
               theater.                                                           TO"
                                                                                  You didn't have to be there
               3. You have got to be there on time tonight if you want to get a on time to get a seat.
               seat in the crowded theater.
                                                                                  3. SHIFT TO "DON'T HAVE
                                                                                         TO"
                                                                                         You won't have to be there
                                                                                         on time to get a seat.
                Haven't you got to be there by 7:00?
haven't got
to              Haven't you got to finish that project today?                                                          Don't you,
future                                                                                                                 have to
obligation      ("Haven't got to" is primarily used to ask about future obligations.
                It can be used in statements, but this is less common.)

                                                                   May

                                                                                                                            You
          1. Present
                                                                                                                            can
Modal Use 2. Past                                                     Negative Forms
                                                                                                                            also
          3. Future
                                                                                                                            use:
              1. Jack may be upset. I can't really tell if he is
                                                                      1. Jack may not be upset. Perhaps he is tired.
              annoyed or tired.
may                                                                   2. Jack may not have been upset. Perhaps he was
              2. Jack may have been upset. I couldn't really
                                                                      tired.                                          might
              tell if he was annoyed or tired.
possibility
                                                                      3. Jack may not get upset, even if you tell him the
              3. Jack may get upset if you don't tell him the
                                                                      truth
              truth.
              1. You may leave the table now that you're              1. You may not leave the table. You're not finished
              finished with your dinner.                              with your dinner yet.


may           2. SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED TO"                             2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
              You were allowed to leave the table after you           You were not allowed to leave the table because
                                                                                                                            can
              finished your dinner.                                   you hadn't finished your dinner.
permission
              3. You may leave the table when you finish your 3. You may not leave the table until you are
              dinner.                                         finished with your dinner.

              May I borrow your eraser.
may
                                                                                                                            can,
              May I make a phone call.                                               NO NEGATIVE FORM
                                                                                                                            might
requests
              (Requests usually refer to the near future.)

                                                                   Might

               1. Present
                                                                                                                       You can
               2. Past                                                     Negative Forms
Modal Use                                                                                                              also use:
               3. Future
               1. She might be on the bus. I think her car is having 1. She might not be on the bus. She might
               problems.                                             be walking home.

might          2. She might have taken the bus. I'm not sure how           2. She might not have taken the bus. She could,
possibility    she got to work.                                            might have walked home.                  may

               3. She might take the bus to get home. I don't think 3. She might not take the bus. She might
               Bill will be able to give her a ride.                get a ride from Bill.
               1. If I entered the contest, I might actually win.          1. Even if I entered the contest, I might
might                                                                      not win.
conditional    2. If I had entered the contest, I might actually have
(may,          won.                                                   2. Even if I had entered the contest, I
might)                                                                might not have won.
               3. If I entered the contest tomorrow, I might actually
              win. Unfortunately, I can't enter it.                    3. Even if I entered the contest tomorrow,
                                                                       I might not win.
                                                                       1. NO PRESENT FORM
              1. NO PRESENT FORM
might                                                                  2. PAST FORM UNCOMMON
           2. You might have tried the cheese cake.                                                                  could
suggestion
                                                                       3. You might not want to eat the cheese
              3. You might try the cheesecake.
                                                                       cake. It's very calorific.
might         Might I have something to drink?
request                                                                                                              could,
              Might I borrow the stapler?                               NEGATIVE FORMS UNCOMMON                      may,
(British                                                                                                             can
form)         (Requests usually refer to the near future.)


REMEMBER: "Might not" vs. "Could not"
"Might not" suggests you do not know if something happens. "Could not" suggests that it is impossible for something to
happen.

                                                               Must

                   1. Present
                                                                                                                      You can
Modal Use          2. Past                                         Negative Forms
                                                                                                                      also use:
                   3. Future
                   1. That must be Jerry. They said he was         1. That must not be Jerry. He is supposed to
                   tall with bright red hair.                      have red hair.

must               2. That must have been the right           2. That must not have been the right restaurant.
                                                                                                               have to
certainty          restaurant. There are no other restaurants I guess there is another one around here
                   on this street.                            somewhere.

                   3. NO FUTURE FORM                               3. NO FUTURE FORM
                   You must not swim in that river. It's full of
                   crocodiles.

must not           You must not forget to take your malaria
prohibition        medication while your are in the tropics.

                   (Prohibition usually refer to the near
                   future.)
                   1. You must take some time off and get          1. You mustn't drink so much. It's not good for
must               some rest.                                      your health.
strong
recommendation 2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"                                2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
               You should have taken some time off last            You shouldn't have drunk so much. That
                                                                                                                      should
(Americans     week to get some rest.                              caused the accident.
prefer
the form       3. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"                                3. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
"should.")     You should take some time off next week             You shouldn't drink at the party. You are going
               to get some rest.                                   to be the designated driver.
                                                                   1. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
                                                                   We don't have to get a permit to enter the
                   1. You must have a permit to enter the
must                                                               national park.
                   national park.
necessity
                                                              2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
                   2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
(Americans                                                    We didn't have to get a permit to enter the             have to
                   We had to have a permit to enter the park.
prefer                                                        national park.
the form
"have to.")        3. We must get a permit to enter the park
                                                                   3. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
                   next week.
                                                                   We won't have to get a permit to enter the
                                                                   national park.
                                                              Ought to




                                                                                                                           You
                           1. Present
                                                                                                                           can
Modal Use                  2. Past                                        Negative Forms
                                                                                                                           also
                           3. Future
                                                                                                                           use:
                                                                          1. Margaret ought not exercise too much. It
                           1. Margaret ought to exercise more.            might cause injury.

                           2. Margaret ought to have exercised            2. Margaret ought not have run the marathon.
ought to
                           more so she would be better prepared           She wasn't in good shape.
recommendation/                                                                                                            should
                           for the marathon.
advisability
                                                                          3. Margaret ought not stay at home in front of
                           3. Margaret ought to come to the fitness       the TV. She should go to the fitness center
                           center with us tonight.                        with us.

                           1. She ought to have the package by
                           now.
ought to
assumption/                2. She ought to have received the              "Ought not" is used primarily to express
                                                                                                                           should
expectation/               package yesterday.                             negative recommendation.
probability
                           3. She ought to receive the package
                           tonight.
ought not                  Margaret ought not exercise too much.

(Americans prefer          (Notice that there is no "to" in the
"should not".)             negative form.)

                                                                  Shall

                                                                                                                           You
                 1. Present
                                                                                                                           can
Modal Use        2. Past                                                        Negative Forms
                                                                                                                           also
                 3. Future
                                                                                                                           use:
                                                                                The marketing director shall not be
shall         The marketing director shall be replaced by someone
                                                                                replaced after all.
future action from the New York office.
                                                                                                                           will
                                                                                Fred shall not be there. He has a
(British form) Fred shall be there by 8:00.
                                                                                previous obligation.
shall
               I shall take care of everything for you.                 I shall never forget you.
volunteering/
promising                                                                                                                  will
               I shall make the travel arrangements. There's no need to I shall never give up the fight for
               worry.                                                   freedom.
(British form)
shall                                                                           Man shall never give up the exploration
                 Man shall explore the distant regions of the universe.
inevitability                                                                   of the universe.
                 We shall overcome oppression.
(British form)                                                                  He shall not be held back.
                                                              Should




                  1. Present
                                                                                                                   You can
Modal Use         2. Past                                                   Negative Forms
                                                                                                                   also use:
                  3. Future
                                                                            1. Sarah shouldn't smoke so
                                                                            much. It's not good for her health.
                  1. People with high cholesterol should eat low fat
                  foods.                                                    2. Sarah shouldn't have smoked
should                                                                      so much. That's what caused her
recommendation 2. Frank should have eaten low fat foods. That might         health problems.                       ought to
advisability   have prevented his heart attack.
                                                                            3. Sarah shouldn't smoke when
                  3. You really should start eating better.                 she visits Martha next week.
                                                                            Martha hates when people smoke
                                                                            in her house.
                  I should be at work before 9:00.

                  We should return the video before the video rental
                  store closes.                                                                                    be
should
                                                                             NO NEGATIVE FORMS                     supposed,
obligation
                  ("Should" can also express something between                                                     to
                  recommendation and obligation. "Be supposed to"
                  expresses a similar idea and can easily be used in the
                  past or in negative forms.)
                                                                            1. Susan shouldn't be in New York
                  1. Susan should be in New York by now.
                                                                            yet.
should                                                                                                         ought to,
                  2. Susan should have arrived in New York last week.
assumption/                                                                 2. Susan shouldn't have arrived in be
                  Let's call her and see what she is up to.
expectation/                                                                New York until yesterday.          supposed
probability                                                                                                    to
                  3. Susan should be in New York by next week. Her
                                                                            3. Susan shouldn't arrive in New
                  new job starts on Monday.
                                                                            York until next week.

                                                               Will




               1. Present
                                                                                                                  You can also
Modal Use      2. Past                                                  Negative Forms
                                                                                                                  use:
               3. Future
                                                                        The marketing director will not be
will           The marketing director will be replaced by someone
                                                                        replaced after all.
future         from the New York office.
                                                                                                                  shall
action/
prediction                                                              Fred will not be there. He has a
               Fred will be there by 8:00.
                                                                        previous obligation.
will          I will take care of everything for you.                 I will never forget you.
volunteering/
                                                                                                                  shall
promising     I will make the travel arrangements. There's no need to I will never give up the fight for
              worry.                                                  freedom.
                                                            Would




                                                                                                                           You
                1. Present
                                                                                                                           can
Modal Use       2. Past                                                 Negative Forms
                                                                                                                           also
                3. Future
                                                                                                                           use:
                1. If I were President, I would cut the cost of
                                                                        1. If I were President, I would not raise taxes.
                education.
                                                                        2. If I had been President, I would not have
would           2. If I had been President, I would have cut the
                                                                        raised taxes.
conditional     cost of education.
                                                                        3. If I were President, I would not sign the tax
                3. If I were elected President next year, I would
                                                                        increase next week.
                cut the cost of education.
                I said I would help you.                                I said I wouldn't help you.
would
past of will
                He told me he would be here before 8:00.                He told me he would not be here before 8:00.
                                                                        When I was a kid, I wouldn't go into the water
                When I was a kid, I would always go to the beach.
would                                                                   by myself.
repetition in                                                                                                              used to
past            When he was young, he would always do his
                                                                        When he got older, he would never do his
                homework.
                                                                        homework.




                                                         Modal Forms




Simple Modal                                                      Passive Simple Modal
I could swim at the beach.                                        The room should be cleaned once a day.

Continuous Modal                                                  Passive Continuous Modal
I could be swimming at the beach right now.                       The room should be being cleaned now.

Perfect Modal                                                     Passive Perfect Modal
I could have swum at the beach yesterday.                         The room should have been cleaned yesterday.

Perfect Continuous Modal                                          Passive Perfect Continuous Modal
I could have been swimming at the beach instead of                The room should have been being cleaned but nobody was
working in the office.                                            there. (Rare form)

								
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