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MODAL VERBS

OUTLINE
GENERAL FEATURES
MODAL VERBS
Classified according to the meaning they
express
We will include semi-modals or
suppletive forms
A modal verb can appear in more than
one meaning

GENERAL FEATURES
MOST OF THEM ARE FOLLOWED BY BARE INFINITIVE
Ex: She should be here by five oclock
They do not have inflections (-ed,
-ing, 3rd person
singular s)
Ex: He can speak five different languages
They are negated by adding not
Ex: She might not come since she is very angry with
me
We do not find those features in
Be able to
Have to
Be allowed to

MODALS EXPRESSING ABILITY


CAN: PRESENT ABILITY
EX: She can read minds.

COULD: PAST ABILITY, CONDITIONAL


Ex: At the age of five , she could read
and write

SEMI-MODAL VERBS
BE ABLE TO: Suppletive form
To express ability in all those tenses can,
could cant express
Ex: she hasnt been able to find a job yet

Was/were able(managed just once) to vs


could (general ability in the past)
Ex: At the age of six, I could play the piano
Ex: At the age of six, I couldnt play the piano.
But once, I was able to play the happy birthday
song once.

MODALS OF POSSIBILITY AND


CERTAINTY
100% SURE. must

50% POSSIBLE may/might

0% SURE / IMPOSSIBLE cant

MODALS OF POSSIBILITY AND


CERTAINTY
MUST
EX: Lucy must be at home. The lights
are on.

May/might/could
EX: Peter has come to class today. He
might be ill.

Cant
EX: Lucy cant be at home. The lights
are off.

MODALS OF OBLIGATION
MUST ( Inner obligation)
EX: You must study harder if you
want to pass your exams.
Have to ( Rules)
Ex: Girls have to wear uniform in
private schools.
Have to
Semi-modal in form
She had to get up early last Saturday
since she had to attend a very
important lecture.

PROHIBITION AND NECESSITY


MUSTNT
Ex: You mustnt lie on your CV.

(NOT HAVE TO)Remember to use auxiliary


verbs
Ex: you dont have to pick me up if

you dont want to (its not compulsory).


NEED
You need to take some time off.

NEEDNT isnt followed by to


Ex: You neednt study for this exam.

Advice
SHOULD/OUGHT TO
They are used to express advice
Ex: You ought not to apply for that job

Permission
CAN/MAY/COULD
It depends on the degree of
politeness
Can / May I come in?
Could I come in Mr Robinson?

MODALS + PERFECT INFINITIVES


MIGHT/MAY/COULD HAVE +PAST
PARTICIPLE
Something which was possible in the
past but it didnt finally happen
EX: She could have taken the job but
she didnt.

MODALS + PERFECT INFINITIVES


Must have.
Logical inference about the past
Ex: You must have seen John at the
party.

MODALS + PERFECT INFINITIVES


Cant have..(Its impossible for
smb. to have understood
...)
Ex: She cant have understood the
question.

SHOULD HAVE+ PAST PARTICIPLE


To express your opinions about
something in the past. Now its too
late.
Ex: He should have agreed to come to
the party. It was real fun.

SHOULDNT HAVE
Its used to express or show regret
or express some criticism
I shouldnt have drunk that much

HAD BETTER
FORM
HAD BETTER+ BARE INFINITIVE
HAD BETTER NOT+BARE INFINITIVE
Ex: Wed better stop for petrol soon.
The tank is almost emply

Use: We use it for a particular


situation and not for general advice.

WOULD RATHER
FORM
WOULD RATHER+BARE INFINITIVE
WOULD RATHER NOT+BARE
INFINITIVE
Ex: Id rather not go out this evening if
you dont mind.
Ex: Id rather stay at home than go
out.

WOULD RATHER
Id rather you did something
Notice the difference:
Id rather cook the dinner now. Im in a
hurry.
Id rather you didnt cook. You are a
terrible chef.

RATHER
Used together with prefer
I prefer coke to water.
I prefer drinking coke to drinking water.
I prefer to drink coke rather than drink
water.
Id prefer to drink a coke rather than
drink water.