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Grammar Pre - intermediate

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Grammar Pre - intermediate. Modals III (should, ought to, might, may). Here are some things you should remember if you go to different countries. You should not touch somebody on the head in Thailand. The head is a special part of the body in Thai culture.

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grammar pre intermediate


Modals III

(should, ought to, might, may)

Here are some things you should remember if you go to different countries.

You should not touch somebody on the head in Thailand. The head is a special part of the body in Thai culture.

You ought to knock loudly on doors in Nicarague - knocking softly is not polite.

If you go to a restaurant in South Korea, you shouldtake off your shoes. This is polite.

In Taiwan, you shouldnt give somebody an umbrella as a present. An umbrella will bring people bad luck.

Guests in Mexico should always leave a little bit of food on their plate. This shows they are not hungry.

  • Should has a similar meaning to must, but is not so strong.

You shouldeat healthy food.

  • We use should for suggestions, opinions and advice.

You shouldn’t drive fast in the rain.

Should Iwear a tie?

ought to
  • Ought to = should but it is much less common.
  • Ought to is very rare in questions and negatives.

You ought tobe more polite.

ought to should x must
ought to/should x must
  • We use must to talk about what’s necessary.
  • We use should/ought to to talk about what’s good.

I must get a new passport, I’m travelling next month.

I should eat more fruit, but I don’t like fruit.

may x might
may x might

We maylive without poetry, music and art;

We maylive without conscience, and live without heart;

We maylive without books;

But civilised man cannot live without cooks.

(Owen Meredith)

Science fiction is the literature of mightbe.


  • We use may to say that things are possible - perhaps. They are (not) true, or perhaps they will (not) happen.

We may go to Poland at the weekend. We maynotbe here tomorrow.

  • We don’t use may in this way in questions.

It may snow.

BUT NOT Mayit snow?

may not x can t
may not x can’t

He maynotbe home - I’ll phone and find out.

( = Perhaps he’s not at home...)

He can’tbe at home; he went to Slovakia this morning.

( = He’s certainly not at home...)

  • We can use can’t to express great surprise or disbelief.

Jane is going to marry John. It can’t betrue.She hates him.

  • We can use might in the same way as may especially if we are not so sure about thing, if the chance is less certain.

Are you ill? Not, sure. I might have a cold. Or perhaps not.

I might notbe here tomorrow.

  • Might is unusual in questions.
  • We can also use could to talk about possibility.
  • CARTER, R., McCARTHY, M. Cambridge GrammarofEnglish. 1. vyd. Cambridge: CUP, 2006. ISBN 0-521-67439-5.
  • DAVIS, F., RIMMER, W.ActiveGrammarwithanswers: Level 1. 1. vyd. Cambridge: CUP, 2011.ISBN 978-0-521-73251-2.
  • SWAN, M., WALTER, C.Oxford EnglishGrammarCourse Basic. 1. vyd. Oxford: OUP, 2011.ISBN 978-0-19-442077-8.
  • Use should/ought to in an affirmative sentence.
  • Use should/ought to in a negative sentence.
  • Express the difference between should and must in sentences.
  • Use may/might in an affirmative sentence.
  • Use may not and can’t in a sentence. Express the difference.