25th July 2020
Modal verbs and when to use them
can / could / have to / may / must
ought to / should / will
Modal verbs are used for:
Permission // Possibility // Obligation
Request // Speculation // Suggestion
Sounds confusing ? Don’t worry – English is meant to be USED, not just studied and so, without further ado, some examples:
Can I get a bus to Ben Thanh Market ?
Can I get a bus to Main Street from here ?
This means is it possible to get a bus from here ?
Can you hit the lights, please ?
A request to turn on / off the lights.
We use can to ask if something is possible and to request help.
Who’s that ? It could be Peter. Speculation, a guess
You have to get over 60% or you will fail. Obligation
Oh, you must see the new Quentin Tarantino film. Suggestion
Will you help me with my tieng Viet ? May I go to the party ? Request
You musn’t use your phone when riding a motorbike. Permission
You ought to stop drinking so much coffee. Suggestion
You should all read English books. Suggestion
can // could // have to // may // must
ought to // should //will
[answers at end of exercise]
First, decide which of the six classes is needed (permission, request etc). The first two are indicated, after that, you’re on your own.
… I use my mobile phone in class ? Request
You … answer all three questions. Obligation
It’s too heavy; … you help me lift it ?
Don’t wait too long, he … not come.
… I buy an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy ?
May I use my mobile phone in class ?
You have to answer all three questions.
It’s too heavy; can you help me lift it ?
Don’t wait too long, he may not come.
Should I buy an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy ?