Modal Verbs: Characteristics, Usage Rules and Worksheets 2

Modal Verbs: Characteristics, Usage Rules and Worksheets

Modal Verbs: Usage and Worksheets

The verb (BE) when used with ordinary verbs to make tenses, passive forms, questions and negatives are called Auxiliary Verbs. Auxiliary verbs have two types. There are two types Auxiliary verbs. These two types are Primary Auxiliary Verbs ( Be, Have, Do, ) and Model Auxiliary Verbs or Simply Model Verbs. Here we are going to discuss about Model Verbs.

The Verbs can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to, need, dare are called Modal Verbs. These are the supporting verbs that convey the ‘mode’ or ‘manner’ of the actions suggested by the main verbs. They are used before ordinary verbs and express:

1. Permission

2. Obligation

2. Ability

3. Possibility

4. Certainty

5. Necessity

The Modals like can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would and ought are termed Defective Verbs for the reason that some parts are wanting in them and they have no (s) in their third-person singular and have no (ing) and (ed) forms.

Modal verbs do not change according to the person or number of the subject.


He can swim. They can swim.
I can swim. We can swim.
You can swim.

A modal Verb is always used with a verb in its basic form. The modal verb takes the tense while the main verb remains in its dictionary form (bare infinitive).


I can swim.
I could swim.
I may swim.
I might swim.

Modal Verbs can be used alone in response to a question.


Can you swim? I can.
Will you swin? I will.
Will you swim? I may/I will.

Modal Verbs, when joined with ‘not’ to form a negative, can be contracted.


I can not sing. = I can’t sing.
I do not sing. = I don’t sing.
I will not sing. = I won’t sing.

Modal Verbs: Characteristics, Usage Rules and Worksheets 3


1. CAN:- Usually express ability or capacity; as

I can write a story.

He can divide the sum.

Can he talk fluently?

Read Also: Modals Expressing Ability

2. Can and May are used to seek permission. May is rather formal.

You can/ may go now.

Can/ may I borrow your pen?

Note:- May is used to express possibility in affirmation sentences.

It may rain tomorrow.

He may be in the clinic tomorrow.

Can is used to used in the corresponding interrogative and negative sentences. Can this be true?

It cannot be true.

May is used to express wish ; as

May you stay blessed!

May success attend you!

Could and Might are used as the past equivalent of Can and May.

I could write a story when I was young. (Ability)

He said I might/ could go. (Permission)

I thought he might be at his office. (Possibility)

Note:– Might can be used to express a degree of dissatisfaction or reproach; as You might pay a little more attention at your studies.

Uses of Shall, Should, Will, Would

Shall is used in the first person and Will in all the persons to express pure future ; as

I shall be twenty next birthday.

We will need the money on Eid.

Tomorrow will be Sunday.

Shall is sometimes used in the second and third person to express a command, a promise or threat.

He shall not enter my office again. (Command)

You shall have a holiday today. (Promise)

You shall be punished for stealing my bag. (Threat)

Questions with Shall are asked to seek the will of the person addressed; as,


a) George Bernard Shaw is quite dismissive about the way the humans perceive freedom. He debunks the lofty perception about ‘freedom’ held by those who think they enjoy it. Shaw shreds this conventional wisdom into pieces through some powerful arguments. He states how, a human being, in order to stay alive, ……… eat, drink, sleep, wash, and do other bodily functions. Even if he goes into voluntary hibernation, he ……..avoid doing these functions. Nearly half of his day goes for these mundane inescapable functions. So, Shaw argues, Nature and the Creator rob the humans of half of their freedom. After this is done, a human has to work for a living. Those, who are too wealthy, need not work, but they ……… walk, do certain minimal works at home. Even these obligations can be got done through servants, animals like horses etc. But, still, freedom eludes them. They have to produce food, clothing, and a host of other goods and commodities to cater to their needs for a comfortable living. Thus, he can not quite shake off the shackles of enslavement.

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