Modals Express…• Ability, Permission, Possibility• Advice, Necessity, Obligation• Future Time
Simple Modals• Have single forms Historical Present Tense Past Tense Can Could May Might Must ------ Shall Should Will Would
Periphrastic Modals• Formed with the verbs be and have• ‘Phrase-like’ instead of single word forms Be able to Be allowed to Have (got) to Be supposed to Be going to Ought to
• One kind of auxiliary verb (like ‘be’ and ‘have’)• Precedes the main verb in the predicate – Directly She might run in the race. – Before auxiliary verbs She might be running.• Does not take the present tense –s or the past tense –ed inflections – *He shoulds eat the candy. – *He shoulded ate the candy.• Can contract with ‘not’ – He shouldn’t talk to her. – *He worksn’t with her.
Modal MeaningsEpistemic Root• What is known by • What is socially the speaker/writer determined• Fact-based • Authority• ‘necessary that’ relationship (must) • ‘necessary for’ (must)• ‘possible that’ (may) • ‘possible for’ (may)
Epistemic Meanings• Crystal must be crazy.= necessity• Crystal may be crazy.= possibilityRoot Meanings• Eliza, you must eat your dinner.= necessity• Eliza, you may eat your dinner.= permission
Epistemic or Root?Because of the rain, the roads will be dangerous.Studying too much grammar may cause serious injury.You may leave whenever you are ready.You can watch TV when you are done studying.
Social Function of Modals• Making requests – Can/could you help me with my homework? • Yes, I can./Yes, I could. – May/might I leave the room now? • Yes, you may./Yes, you might. – Present tense form is more direct, historical past tense form is used to soften a request (make it more polite)• Request modals change meaning when “not” is contracted vs. when it precedes the main verb – Won’t you please get into the pool? (Please get in.) – Will you please not get into the pool? (Please do not)
MAY/MIGHT Possibility Permission• Extended Meanings for may – Concession• Extended Meanings for might – Speculation – Suggestion – Criticism – Permission in formal requests
SHOULD/MUST/OUGHT TO Advice Necessity/Obligation Prohibition• Extended Meanings for must – Minimal requirement/Condition – Polite Insistence• Extended Meanings for should – Probability – Reproach/reprimand
NEED TO/HAVE TO/BE SUPPOSED TO Advice Necessity/Obligation• Extended Meanings – Inferred probability – Polite insistence
WILL/SHALL Future Time/Predictions• Extended Meanings for will – Volition – Inferred Probability – Requests (polite alternatives to commands)• Extended Meanings for shall – Suggestions/Requests for advice
WOULD/BE GOING TO Future Time/Predictions• Extended Meanings for would – Regular action in the past – Hypothetical results – Inferred probability – Polite requests• Extended Meanings for ‘be going to’ – Future Time: Planned action – Future Time: Immediately imminent action
Modals and Negation• Structural pattern of negation and modals is very consistent – NOT comes after the modal – Can be contracted Anne cannot sing. Anne can’t sing. *Anne not can sing.
Problems ESL/EFL Students May HaveDebes nadar.*You should to swim.I have a dog.I have sold the dog.Adding inflections like main verbs
Teaching Ideas• Examine expository written discourse (magazine articles) and note modal verbs and possible meanings in context• Use continuum (probably, possibly, not likely) to create sentences from prompts – Rain today (possibly) It may rain today.• Create directions for a game• Describe what you could/couldn’t do as a child vs. what you can/can’t do as an adult• Change abrupt sentences into more polite ones using modals – You’re not very busy. You can help me. – You don’t seem very busy. Could you help me?
Teaching Ideas• “Find someone who…” game – Find someone who can play tennis. – Can you play tennis?• “What would you say if…” role plays – …you are a teacher who wants to let a student know that it is necessary to come to class on time