Introduction • Modals are special words in English and are used for specific purposes. They are NOT verbs. • The modals are: can, could, had better, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, would. • Phrasal modals: be able to, be going to, be supposed to, have to, have got to. • The form is: Subject + Modal + Verb • She can sing very well.
Expressing Ability: can, can’t, could, couldn’t • In the present: A cat can climb trees but it can’t swim. • In the past: Our son could walk when he was one year old but he couldn’t talk. • Expressing Possibility: may, might, could • It may rain tomorrow. • Where is Dave? I don’t know. He might be stuck in traffic. • Where are the pens? They could be in the drawer.
Expressing Permission: may, can • John was sick so he may submit his essay late. • You can park your car on this street but not on the next one. • Giving Advice: should, ought to, had better • You should be on time for class or your teacher will be angry. • You ought to have your passport when you cross the boarder. • You had better clean the house before your guests arrive.
Expressing Necessity or Lack of Necessity: must, have/had to, have got to, don’t/didn’t have to • You must have a visa to enter Cambodia. • Matt has to meet with the director on Friday. • They had to take the bus because their car broke down. (past tense) • I have got to go or I will be late for my meeting. • “have got to” is informal and used in spoken English only. The usual pronunciation of “got to” is “gotta” and sometimes “have” is omitted... “I gotta go.” • She doesn’t have to work on Monday so we can stay in New York for an extra day. • We didn’t have to bring lunch. It was provided. (past tense)
Expressing Prohibition: must not, can’t, had better not • You can’t swim in the Rideau Canal. • When my mother is here you had better not talk about politics. • You must not open your gift until your birthday. • Expressing logical conclusions: must, must not • Nancy is coughing a lot. She must be sick. • Rick took the olives off of his pizza. He must not like olives.
Requests: may, could, can, would, will • May I borrow your pen? • Could you pass me that book? • Can I use your computer tonight? • Would you please open the window? • Will you please lend me $10? • Expressing Obligation: be supposed to • I am supposed to take care of my sister’s children tomorrow. • She was supposed to call me yesterday but she didn’t. (when used in the past, “was supposed to” indicates that an action that was expected, did NOT happen)
Making Suggestions: could, should, could have, should have • What should we do tomorrow? We could go fishing or we could go on a picnic. (“could” expresses choices) • If you are having trouble with your English class, you should talk to your teacher. (“should” offers a stronger suggestion; advice) • Jerry could have gone to a movie or gone shopping. Instead he stayed home. (“could have” expresses choices in the past.) • I failed my Math test! I should have studied more! (“should have” gives advice that applies to a past situation.)
Degrees of Certainty • Modals can be used to express how sure you are that something is true. • In the present we use: must be, may be, might be and could be • 100% certain: Carbon dioxide is contributing to global warming. (no modal) • 95% certain: Carbon dioxide must be contributing to global warming. • 50% certain or less: Carbon dioxide may be / might be / could be contributing to global warming.
In the present negative we use: couldn’t be, can’t be, must not be, may not be, might not be. • 100% certain: She is not hungry. (no modal) • 99% certain: She couldn’t be hungry. She can’t be hungry. • 95% certain: She must not be hungry. • 50% certain or less: She may not be hungry. might not be hungry.
In the past we use: must have been, may have been, could have been. Affirmative Negative 100% certain: He was not sick. (no modal) 99% certain: He can’t have been sick. He couldn’t have been sick. 95% certain: He must not have been sick. 50% certain or less: He may not have been sick. He might not have been sick. • 100% certain: He was sick. (no modal) • 95% certain: He must have been sick. • 50% certain or less: He may have been sick. He might have been sick. He could have been sick.
In the future we use: should, ought to, may, might, could • 100% sure: Ben will do well on the test. (no modal) • 90% certain: Ben should do well on the test. Ben ought to do well on the test. • 50% certain and less: Ben may do well on the test. Ben might do well on the test. Ben could do well on the test.