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Modal verbs – GRammar

Modal verbs are special verbs which behave irregularly. They give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows it.

Here is a list of the modal verbs:

cancouldmaymightwould
willmustshallshouldought to

Characteristics of modal verbs

Modal verbs are different from normal verbs because

  • they are followed directly by the infinitive of another verb (without ‘to’).
  • they never change their form. You cannot add -s, -d, -ing etc.
  • questions are made by inversion (‘he can swim’ becomes ‘can he swim?’).
  • they are used to indicate modality allow speakers to express certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, ability

Use of modal verbs

Modal verbs are used to express functions such as:

  • Permission
  • Prohibition
  • Advice
  • Possibility
  • Probability
  • Ability
  • Obligation
  • Lack of necessity

Examples of modal verbs

In this table you can see the modal verbs with examples of how they are used.

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