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THE MODAL
VERBS
Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that can not
function as a main verb, unlike auxiliary verbs
"be", "do" and "have" that they can function as
a main verb.
 Modal verbs expressed mode. They can
express ability, possibility, necessity or
other status. They are auxiliaries of the
future and the conditional. English verb
tenses are not enough to express ideas of
chance or uncertainty. No one conditional
tense in English. Simultaneously,
auxiliaries used for conditional. Nor is
there a tense and the subjunctive in
Spanish. Therefore, it is very important
to understand the uses of modal verbs.
As complementary verbs
are modal verbs do not
work without another
word. This other verb
always goes after the
modal verb is in the base
form (the infinitive
without "to"). Modal
verbs are not conjugated
and have no time.
Modal Verbs are:
can
could
may
might
Will
shall
should
ought to
must
would
CAN
Can "suggests ability or possibility. In these cases it can be translated
as" poder "in Spanish.
 Examples:
 I can speak five languages. (Puedo hablar cinco idiomas.)
 We can work late tonight if you need us. (Podemos trabajar
hasta tarde esta noche si nos necesitas.)
 Bill and Tom can't help you. (Bill y Tom no pueden ayudarte.)
In interrogative sentences, the use of "can" may request permission
or inquire about possibilities.
 Examples:
 Can I have a glass of water? (¿Puedo tomar un vaso de agua?)
 Can you help me? (¿Puedes ayudarme?)
 Can they work late tonight? (¿Pueden trabajar hasta tarde esta
noche?)
COULD
"Could" indicates possibility or ability in the past.
 Examples:
 Joe could speak Spanish when he was young. (Joe podía hablar español cuando era
joven.)
 I couldn't sleep last night. (No pude dormir anoche.)
 It could have been worse. (Podría haber sido peor.)
You can also use "could" to future possibilities.
 Examples:
 You could pass the test if you studied. (Podrías pasar el examen si estudiaras.)
 I think it could rain later. (Creo que podría llover más tarde.)
As "can" in interrogative sentences "could" may seek permission or ask about the
possibilities, but is more formal.
 Examples:
 Could you pass the salt please? (¿Podría pasarme la sal por favor?)
 Could you help me? (¿Podrías ayudarme?)
 Could I be wrong? (¿Podría estar equivocado?)
MAY
As "could", "may" is used to indicate possibilities in the future.
 Examples:
o I would bring an umbrella, it may rain later
o It may be better to finish this now, rather than wait until tomorrow.
It can also be used to give permission or instructions.
 Examples:
o You may leave if you like. (Puede salir si le gusta.)
o You may use your cell phones now. (Podéis usar sus teléfonos ahora.)
With yes or no questions the use of "may" is more educated than
"can".
 Examples:
o May I have a glass of water? (¿Podría tomar un vaso de agua?)
o May I leave now? (¿Podría salir ahora?)
MIGHT
"Might" is used to indicate possibilities in the
present or the future. In these cases, it is
synonymous with "may".
 Examples:
o I would bring an umbrella, it might rain later.
o It might be better to finish this now, rather than
wait until tomorrow.
It can also be used as "may" permits or requests
for pleasantries, but this use is much more
common in the UK than in the United States.
WILL
As we have seen, "it will" is used to form the future tense.
Also the use of "will" means will or determination.
 Examples:
o I will help you. (Te ayudaré.)
o We will learn English. (Aprenderemos inglés.)
“Will" is used in interrogative sentences to ask for
information, a favor or options.
 Examples:
o Will they find a cure for cancer? (¿Encontrarán una cura para
el cáncer?)
o Will you help me move? (¿Me ayudas a mudarme?)
o Will he go to Paris by car or train? (¿Va a París en coche o el
tren?)
SHALL
"Shall" is used as "will" to form the future tense. The use of "shall"
is much more common in the UK and is generally more educated.
 Examples:
o Chris shall be happy to see you. (Chris estará feliz de verte.)
o I'll take the 3 o'clock train. (Tomaré el tren a las 15h.)
You can also use "shall" to offers and suggestions or to ask about
options or preferences.
 Examples:
o Shall we meet at 10pm? (¿Quedamos a las 22h?)
o Shall we go to the movies or a museum? (¿Vamos al cine o a un
museo?)
SHOULD
"Should" indicates an obligation or recommendation. It reflects an opinion
about what is right. It translates as the subjunctive of "duty" in Spanish.
 Examples:
o I should call my parents more often. (Debería llamar a mis padres
más a menudo.)
o You shouldn't work so hard. (No debería trabajar tan duro.)
o They should practice more if they want to win the championship.
“Should" is used in interrogative sentences to ask if there is an obligation
or to ask for a recommendation.
 Examples:
o Should we leave a tip? (¿Deberíamos dejar una propina?)
o Should I have the steak or the chicken? (¿Debería comer el bistec o
el pollo?)
o Where should they meet you? (¿Dónde deberían encontrarte?)
OUGHT TO
"Ought to" is synonymous with "should", but
never "ought to" used in interrogative sentences
in American English.
 Examples:
o You ought to quit smoking. (Deberías dejar de fumar.)
o I ought to call my parents more often. (Debería llamar
a mis padres más a menudo.)
o They ought to work less. (Deberían trabajar menos.)
MUST
"Must" indicates an obligation, prohibition or need. It can also be used "to
have to" (tener que).
 Examples:
o You must [have to] read this book, it's fantastic.
o You must [have to] brush your teeth two times a day.
You can also use "must" to indicate probability or take something.
 Examples:
o John's not here. He must be sick because he never misses class.
o It must be difficult to learn a new language as an adult.
You may also use "must" for rhetorical questions.
 Examples:
o Must you always be late? (¿Siempre tienes que llegar tarde?)
o Must she talk so much? (¿Tiene que hablar tanto?)
WOULD
"Would" is used to declare a preference and to ask for something
politely.
 Examples:
o I would like to go to New York someday. (Me gustaría ir a
Nueva York un día.)
o I would like a beer and my wife would like a glass of wine
please. (Me gustaría una cerveza y mi mujer le gustaría una
copa de vino por favor.)
o Would you like some coffee? (¿Le gustaría un cafe?)
o Would you help me please? (¿Me ayudas por favor?)
o When would you like to go to the movies? (¿Cuándo te
gustaría ir al cine?)

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The modal verbs - ALL IN ENGLISH

  • 1. THE MODAL VERBS Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that can not function as a main verb, unlike auxiliary verbs "be", "do" and "have" that they can function as a main verb.
  • 2.  Modal verbs expressed mode. They can express ability, possibility, necessity or other status. They are auxiliaries of the future and the conditional. English verb tenses are not enough to express ideas of chance or uncertainty. No one conditional tense in English. Simultaneously, auxiliaries used for conditional. Nor is there a tense and the subjunctive in Spanish. Therefore, it is very important to understand the uses of modal verbs.
  • 3. As complementary verbs are modal verbs do not work without another word. This other verb always goes after the modal verb is in the base form (the infinitive without "to"). Modal verbs are not conjugated and have no time.
  • 5. CAN Can "suggests ability or possibility. In these cases it can be translated as" poder "in Spanish.  Examples:  I can speak five languages. (Puedo hablar cinco idiomas.)  We can work late tonight if you need us. (Podemos trabajar hasta tarde esta noche si nos necesitas.)  Bill and Tom can't help you. (Bill y Tom no pueden ayudarte.) In interrogative sentences, the use of "can" may request permission or inquire about possibilities.  Examples:  Can I have a glass of water? (¿Puedo tomar un vaso de agua?)  Can you help me? (¿Puedes ayudarme?)  Can they work late tonight? (¿Pueden trabajar hasta tarde esta noche?)
  • 6. COULD "Could" indicates possibility or ability in the past.  Examples:  Joe could speak Spanish when he was young. (Joe podía hablar español cuando era joven.)  I couldn't sleep last night. (No pude dormir anoche.)  It could have been worse. (Podría haber sido peor.) You can also use "could" to future possibilities.  Examples:  You could pass the test if you studied. (Podrías pasar el examen si estudiaras.)  I think it could rain later. (Creo que podría llover más tarde.) As "can" in interrogative sentences "could" may seek permission or ask about the possibilities, but is more formal.  Examples:  Could you pass the salt please? (¿Podría pasarme la sal por favor?)  Could you help me? (¿Podrías ayudarme?)  Could I be wrong? (¿Podría estar equivocado?)
  • 7. MAY As "could", "may" is used to indicate possibilities in the future.  Examples: o I would bring an umbrella, it may rain later o It may be better to finish this now, rather than wait until tomorrow. It can also be used to give permission or instructions.  Examples: o You may leave if you like. (Puede salir si le gusta.) o You may use your cell phones now. (Podéis usar sus teléfonos ahora.) With yes or no questions the use of "may" is more educated than "can".  Examples: o May I have a glass of water? (¿Podría tomar un vaso de agua?) o May I leave now? (¿Podría salir ahora?)
  • 8. MIGHT "Might" is used to indicate possibilities in the present or the future. In these cases, it is synonymous with "may".  Examples: o I would bring an umbrella, it might rain later. o It might be better to finish this now, rather than wait until tomorrow. It can also be used as "may" permits or requests for pleasantries, but this use is much more common in the UK than in the United States.
  • 9. WILL As we have seen, "it will" is used to form the future tense. Also the use of "will" means will or determination.  Examples: o I will help you. (Te ayudaré.) o We will learn English. (Aprenderemos inglés.) “Will" is used in interrogative sentences to ask for information, a favor or options.  Examples: o Will they find a cure for cancer? (¿Encontrarán una cura para el cáncer?) o Will you help me move? (¿Me ayudas a mudarme?) o Will he go to Paris by car or train? (¿Va a París en coche o el tren?)
  • 10. SHALL "Shall" is used as "will" to form the future tense. The use of "shall" is much more common in the UK and is generally more educated.  Examples: o Chris shall be happy to see you. (Chris estará feliz de verte.) o I'll take the 3 o'clock train. (Tomaré el tren a las 15h.) You can also use "shall" to offers and suggestions or to ask about options or preferences.  Examples: o Shall we meet at 10pm? (¿Quedamos a las 22h?) o Shall we go to the movies or a museum? (¿Vamos al cine o a un museo?)
  • 11. SHOULD "Should" indicates an obligation or recommendation. It reflects an opinion about what is right. It translates as the subjunctive of "duty" in Spanish.  Examples: o I should call my parents more often. (Debería llamar a mis padres más a menudo.) o You shouldn't work so hard. (No debería trabajar tan duro.) o They should practice more if they want to win the championship. “Should" is used in interrogative sentences to ask if there is an obligation or to ask for a recommendation.  Examples: o Should we leave a tip? (¿Deberíamos dejar una propina?) o Should I have the steak or the chicken? (¿Debería comer el bistec o el pollo?) o Where should they meet you? (¿Dónde deberían encontrarte?)
  • 12. OUGHT TO "Ought to" is synonymous with "should", but never "ought to" used in interrogative sentences in American English.  Examples: o You ought to quit smoking. (Deberías dejar de fumar.) o I ought to call my parents more often. (Debería llamar a mis padres más a menudo.) o They ought to work less. (Deberían trabajar menos.)
  • 13. MUST "Must" indicates an obligation, prohibition or need. It can also be used "to have to" (tener que).  Examples: o You must [have to] read this book, it's fantastic. o You must [have to] brush your teeth two times a day. You can also use "must" to indicate probability or take something.  Examples: o John's not here. He must be sick because he never misses class. o It must be difficult to learn a new language as an adult. You may also use "must" for rhetorical questions.  Examples: o Must you always be late? (¿Siempre tienes que llegar tarde?) o Must she talk so much? (¿Tiene que hablar tanto?)
  • 14. WOULD "Would" is used to declare a preference and to ask for something politely.  Examples: o I would like to go to New York someday. (Me gustaría ir a Nueva York un día.) o I would like a beer and my wife would like a glass of wine please. (Me gustaría una cerveza y mi mujer le gustaría una copa de vino por favor.) o Would you like some coffee? (¿Le gustaría un cafe?) o Would you help me please? (¿Me ayudas por favor?) o When would you like to go to the movies? (¿Cuándo te gustaría ir al cine?)