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Welcometo a presentation onModal verbs
Abilitycan.could.be able toCan he swim?My brother could swim when he was two.I couldn’t find my keys this morning.She has not been able to walk since the accident.
Possibilitycould.may.might.canCould/Might you lost it on the way home?She may/might/could be ill. I’ll phone her.It can get very cold in here at night.
Permissioncan.could.mayCan we come in?Could we possible stay at your flat?Staff may take their break between 12 and 2.(written)May I sit here?(formal)
Prohibitionmust not.maynot.cannotYou mustn’t tell her anything.You can’t get up until you’re better.Crockery may not be taken out of the canteen.(written)You must not begin until I tell you.(formal)
Obligationhave(got) to.mustAll visitors must report to reception on arrival. (written)Do you have to write your name on the form?She had to throw the burnt cake away.
No necessitydon’t have to.shouldn’thave.didn’t need to.needn’t haveYou don’t have to pick us up-we can take a taxi.They didn’t have to go through customs.You shouldn’t have bothered making lunch-we could have bought a sandwich.They needn’t have waited.
Advice and Criticismought to.shouldOught we to/Should we write and thank him?She ought to/should go out more often.You ought to have/should have gone to bed earlier.
Assumptions and deductionswill.should.must.can’tThat will be James-he’s often early.The book should be interesting.There must be a leak.You can’t have finished already!
Requestscan.could.will.wouldCan you pass me the dictionary?Could you help me with my translation?Will you buy me an ice cream, Mum?Would you type this letter for me, please?Note:Could and would are more formal than can and will.
Offers and Suggestionsshall.willShall I do the washing-up?I’ll take you to the airport.
Thank you

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