¿What is a modal verb?
O Modal verbs are verbs, wich go ahead of others,
I can play
O It adds a particular nuance to the meaning of the
I play: (yo) juego
I can play: (yo) puedo/ sé jugar
(we understand that there are possibilities to he/she
plays or has the ability to play something)
There are many modal verbs that you already know: can, must,
could, have to, might, will, would, should, ... And each one is used
to provide some extra meaning.
O I can play
can: poder> habilidad o posibilidad > Puedo jugar
O I must play
must: deber> obligación > Debo jugar
O I should play
should: debería> obligación muy suave o consejo > Debería jugar
O I have to play
have to: tener que> fuerte obligación > Tengo que jugar
O I would play
would: > condición o potencialidad > Jugaría si
¿How does it work?
O Are unchanged, like this...
She can dance (is not added «s» with the 3rd singular
O It does not needs do / does / did, to the negative form or
O For the negative form is added «not» behind:
We should not smoke (take care with “have to”)
O For the interrogative form it is exchanged with the
Must you go? ( take care with “have to”)
O It can not be auxiliary to each other:
I would can buy it (we use “could”)
¿What is the meaning of each one?
O Abiliy: can / could
I could run faster when I was younger.
O Possibility: can / could / may / might
It might snow in September.
O Obligation: have to / must / should
You have to carry your Identification Card.
O Permission: may / could / can
May I come in, Mr Johnson?
O Certain: must
It must be nine already.
O Suggestion / offering: shall
Shall I close the door?
O Conditionality / potentiality: would
I would go if you invite me.
In more detail:
O POSSIBILITY: can / could / may / might
poder / podría / podría / podría
(in decreasing order)
For example: I can go tomorrow
Puedo ir mañana
I could go tomorrow
Podría ir mañana
I may go tomorrow
Podría ir mañana (but is unlikely)
I might go tomorrow
Podría ir mañana (but is almost impossible)
O OBLIGATIÓN: have to / must / should
tener que / tener que / deber / debería
(in decreasing order)
You have to drive carefully.
Tienes que conducir con cuidado.
You must carry your driving license with you.
Debes llevar el carnet de conducir.
You should but a new car.
Deberías comprarte otro coche.
O PERMISSION: may / could / can
podría / podría / puedo
(from more formal to less formal)
May I add something to your remark?
Podría añadir algo a su puntualización?
Could I add something to your idea?
Podría añadir algo a su idea?
Can I add something to that?
Puedo añadir algo a eso?
O Tere is a verb seen from above, that is not Modal properly
but Semimodal, cause sometimes it follows other rules:
She has to finish it ( changes depending on the
I don´t have to go (it has not «not» behind)
Did you have to write it? (It does not exchanged its
site with the subject in the interrogative form)