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MODAL AUXILIARY

VERBS
FEATURES
- INVARIABLE
- AUXILIARY, NOT MAIN VERBS
- DEFECTIVE SINCE THEY LACK
CERTAIN VERBAL TENSES (NO
INFINITIVE, NO GERUND, ETC.)
- FOLLOWED BY INFINITIVE WITHOUT
TO.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
CAN
- Ability: I can play the guitar.
- Request: Can you pass me the salt, please?
- Permission: Can I go to the toilet, please?
- Possibility: You can ski in Sierra Nevada in April
- Suggestion: You can buy me a drink.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
CAN’T
- Inability: I can’t play the piano.
- Prohibition: You can’t go out after 12 am.
- Negative deduction: He can’t be old enough to drive.
- Impossibility in the past with the structure CAN’T
HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE: He can’t have been at
home yesterday because I phoned him several times.
EXPRESSIONS WITH CAN’T
- He can’t help … (No puede evitar …)
- I can’t stand / I can’t bear … (no
aguanto/ no soporto …).
Examples:
He can’t help texting all day.
I can’t stand hip hop music.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
COULD
- Past ability: I could swim when I was four.
- Polite request: Could you pass me the salt,
please?
- Polite suggestion: You could visit your aunt from
time to time.
- Possibility: John could pass his driving test.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
COULD
- Deductions when we are not sure something is
true: I’m not sure but that could be Tom’s mum.
- Impossibility in the past (couldn’t have +p.p.):
He couldn’t have done his homework so quickly.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
BE ABLE TO
- Ability (for the other tenses where you can’t use
CAN & COULD):
- You’ll be able to play next football match.
- I’ve been able to play this football match.
- I was able to run 1000 metres in under 3
minutes.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
MAY
- Possibility: It may be true. (Puede que sea verdad
/ Puede ser cierto).
- Ask for and give permission: May I come in?
Yes, you may.
( COULD is more polite than MAY; MAY is
more polite than CAN).
MIGHT
- Remote possibility: It might rain tomorrow.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
MUST
- Obligation, strong necessity: I must go to school
every day.
- Affirmative deduction: She must be 20.
- To give instructions: Patients must take their
medication every day.
- Possibility in the past when we are sure
something happened (must have + p.p.): He’s at
home. He must have taken a taxi.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
MUSTN’T
Prohibition: You mustn’t smoke in public places.
HAVE TO
- Everyday obligations or necessities: I have to get
up early in the morning.
- Obligations imposed by others: I have to be
home before midnight. Otherwise, my parents
will be mad at me.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
MUST vs HAVE TO
MUST: no suele utilizarse en interrogativa. Se trata de un
deber impuesto por la persona que habla; implica a
veces el cumplimiento de normas, de leyes (Soldiers
must obey their captain). A veces la obligación con
MUST tiene el sentido de recomendación o consejo
(You must visit the British Museum in London).
HAVE TO: obligación impuesta por una persona o
circunstancias externas. No implica el cumplimiento de
ninguna norma.
They’ll have to hurry because shops close at 10 o’clock.
MODAL AUXILIARY VEBS
NEED TO
- Not a modal verb per se but used in the
affirmative form to convey OBLIGATION or
NECESSITY.
- You need to study hard in order to pass all your
examinations.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
NEEDN’T TO ---DON’T/ DOESN’T /
DIDN’T NEED TO
- Lack of obligation or necessity:
It’s only eight o’clock, we needn’t hurry /we don’t
need to hurry / We didn’t need to wait. There was no
queue.
Son sólo las ocho. No tenemos que darnos prisa.
NEEDN’T HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
To say we did something in the past although it wasn’t
necessary.
I needn’t have come to school. The teacher was ill and
there were no lessons.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
DON’T HAVE TO
- Lack of obligation or necesity, that is,
absence of legal rule.
You don’t have to wear tie (No hay que
llevar corbata)
MUSN’T
- Prohibition: You mustn’t smoke in class
(No debes/Está prohibido …).
MODAL AUXILIARY VEBS
WOULD
- Invitations/Offers: Would you like something to
drink? ¿Le gustaría ..?
- Formal request: Would you help me, please?
¿Podría ayudarme, por favor?
SHOULD
- Advice: You shouldn’t eat too much.
- Moral obligation: Children should look after
their parents when they are old.
MODAL AUXILIARY VEBS
OUGHT TO
- Advice, weird in negative and interrogative
sentences.
You ought to work harder.
- Criticism of past actions with the structure
OUGHT TO HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
(SHOULD also posible).
He ought to have studied more for the
exam.
He should have studied more for the exam.
MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS
SHOULD vs OUGHT TO
Utilizaremos SHOULD a la hora de dar un consejo
personal o de señalar que una opción es mejor que otra.
- We should visit her.
- We shouldn’t wear only a T-shirt. It’s cold.
Si SHOULD expresa una opinión subjetiva, OUGHT TO
alude a una idea generalizada y externa de que algo no
es recomendable.
- You ought not to smoke.