Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verb which express the mood of another verb.
They are used to express ideas such as:
possibility, prediction, speculation, deduction and necessity.

Modal verbs
1) do not have participle or infinitive forms
2) do not take the ending -(e)s in the third-person singular.


Modal  Concept Example
Can Ability:



Offers :

Julie can swim.


Can I come with you? (‘May’ is also used.)

Can I help you?

Could Possibility:


Past ability :

Permission :

Requests :

That story could be true – who knows!


Charlie could swim when he was four years old.

Could I use your phone please?

Could you tell me the way to the station please?

May Possibility :


Permission :

The President may come to our offices if the meeting
finishes before 5 pm.


May I borrow your dictionary?

Might Slight possibility :


Past form of ‘may’
in reported speech.

We might win a prize but I doubt it.


The President said he might come.




Obligation :


Logical deduction :


Dogs must be kept on a lead.


You must be tired after your long journey.

You mustn’t tell Alex. It’s a surprise!

Should Advice :


Logical deduction :

You should take an umbrella in case it rains.


I’ve revised so I should be ready for the test.

Ought to* Advice :


Logical deduction :

You ought to write to your grandmother.


30 € ought to be enough for the taxi.

Shall Future tense auxiliary :


with ”I’ and ‘we’

I shall be in London on Monday (or I’ll be …).


Shall I order a taxi?
Shall we begin the meeting now?

Will Future tense auxiliary:


Invitations/offers :

The ticket will cost about 50€.


Will you join us for coffee? Won’t you come in?

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