English Grammar

Modal Verbs of English language

Modal Verbs

A modal verb is a type of verb that is used to denote modality, which is used to express: – probability, ability, permission, request, ability, proposal, order, obligation, or advice. Modal verbs always accompany the basic form (infinitive) of another verb that has semantic content.

Basic modal verbs of the English language: can, could, may, might, must, should, should, will, and would. Some other verbs are sometimes, but not always, classified as modal; These include “ought”, “had better” and (in some cases) “dare”, and “need”. Verbs that have only some of the characteristics of the basic modal forms are sometimes called “quasi-modals”, “semi-modals”, or “pseudo-modals”.


Modal verb Modal verb meaning Modal verb example
can to express ability can speak a little English.
can to request permission Can I open the door?
may to express the possibility may be late tomorrow.
may to request permission May I go home, please?
must to express obligation must go now.
must to express a strong belief She must be over 50 years old.
should to give advice You should stop smoking.
would to request or offer Would you like a cup of tea?
would in if-sentences If I were you, I would say sorry.


Modal Verbs of English language
Modal Verbs of English language

More modal verbs Examples

Modal verbs Modal verb usages Modal verb examples




Ability can play the guitar very well.
Permission Can I sit now?
Possibility It can be a rainy day tomorrow.
Offer can help you with this job. Don’t worry!
Request Can you please pass me the water bottle?





Ability in the past could play the guitar well when I was 9.
Polite permission Excuse me, could I come in?
Possibility A hailstorm could come here at night.
Polite offer No problem. I could give you a help.
Polite request Could you please move to the next page?


Permission May I leave early?
Possibility Scientists may discover a vaccine for coronavirus.



Polite permission Might I take you home?
Possibility might visit him evening if the weather is nice.


Obligation You must do the homework.
Certainty He must be at school now. He told me about that yesterday.
Mustn’t Prohibition You mustn’t play here. It’s dangerous.





Prediction The weather forecast predicts that it will rain tomorrow.
Promise will finish all the homework today.
Spontaneous decision will lend you some cash.
Request/ demand Will you please give me that pen?



Used as the past form of “will” My dad said that he would give me some gifts on my birthday.
Polite request/ demand Would you mind closing the window, please?



Prediction This time tomorrow I shall be in Japan.
Offer/ suggestion Shall we discuss this further with her?



Advice You should see the doctor. It’s swollen.
Prediction/ expectation The project should be done this weekend.
Polite suggestion Should I call him to say sorry?


Ought to

Obligation You ought to say good bye to your friends when you leave.
Advice You ought to sleep early. You look really tired.


Used to talk about something not necessary You needn’t give her any advice. She won’t listen.


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