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Modal Verbs

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Introduction to Modal and Semi-modal verbs in English. Intermediate Level.

Introduction to Modal and Semi-modal verbs in English. Intermediate Level.

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  • 1. Modal Verbs Introduction to Simple and Perfect Modal Verbs. Intermediate level.
  • 2. Ability : CAN / BE ABLE / CAN’T /COULD
    • In the present:
        • “ I can drive” / “I can’t speak German”.
    • In any tense:
        • “ I have been able to open the tin”
    • In the past:
        • “ I could ride a bike for hours when I was younger”
  • 3. Request – ask & give permission : CAN /WOULD/ COULD / MAY
    • Informal request
        • Can you pass me the sugar, please?
    • Formal request
        • Would you send me the documents by email?
    • Polite request
        • Excuse me, Could you tell me the way to the post office, please?
    • Polite request
        • May I have the menu, please?
    • Give permission:
        • You can go out if you want.
        • You may leave the class when the bell rings.
  • 4. Possibility: CAN/COULD/MAY/MIGHT
    • Probable:
      • I think we can easily find an agreement
    • Less probable:
      • I am not sure but we could meet one of these days
      • They say it may snow in Seville next weekend
    • Even less probable:
      • Who knows? She might like your idea
  • 5. Offer – Suggestion: SHALL / WOULD / COULD /CAN
    • Offer:
      • I shall do the activity on the board
      • Would you like a cup of coffee?
    • Suggestion:
      • Shall we go to the cinema?
      • You can drink some water if you’re thirsty
    • Polite suggestion:
      • You could try and stop smoking
  • 6. Obligation-Prohibition: MUST / HAVE TO / MUSTN’T
    • Obligation:
      • You must come to class on weekdays.
      • I have to study hard to pass this term.
    • Prohibition:
      • Students mustn’t bring mobile phones to school
  • 7. Necessity-lack of obligation/necessity: NEED TO/ NEEDN’T/DON’T HAVE TO
    • Necessity:
      • I need to understand what’s happening to us.
    • Lack of necessity:
      • You needn’t give anything in return.
      • You don’t need to be so nasty
    • Lack of obligation:
      • You don’t have to pay for that, it’s free
  • 8. Inference: MUST / CAN’T
    • Positive certainty that something is true:
      • She must be living in this neighbourhood because I see her everyday at the baker’s.
    • Negative conclusion or disbelief:
      • Look! That’s Mary’s car! –No, It can’t be her car, she has recently left the city.
  • 9. Advice: SHOULD/ OUGHT TO / HAD BETTER
    • Advice, opinion:
      • They should pay more attention to the explanations
      • You ought to reconsider your decision
    • Colloquial speaking:
      • You’ d better go to the dentist if that toothache continues.
    • Warnings:
      • You’ d better not touch my Wii.
  • 10. Modal Perfect
    • Inference for the Past:
      • He must have left because the lights are off
    • Guess about a past action:
      • He may/might have taken the tube if he missed the bus
    • Regret about something undone in the past:
      • He could have said he was sorry
      • I would have done it if I had had the chance
    • Criticism after an event:
      • You should/ought to have woken me up earlier
    • An unnecessary past action:
      • You needn’t have bothered to bring anything for dinner