The principal modal verbs include can, must, may, might, will, would, should. They are used with other verbs to express ability, obligation, possibility, and so on. Following is a list showing the most useful modals and their most common meanings.
Modal Verbs in English
- I can speak Spanish.
- Can I go to the bathroom?
- It can’t be Mark. He is in London.
- Past ability
- Past permission
- Probability (40%)
- He could speak French when he was 6 years old.
- He could go to the theater.
- It could get much hotter in July.
- I could lend you my notebook.
- It may snow tomorrow.
- May I come in?
- Probability (35% or less)
- It might rain today.
- You mustn’t speak loudly. This is the hospital.
- The teacher must be Mark. I’ve seen his bicycle outside.
- You shouldn’t smoke. It is unhealthy.
- Spontaneous decision
- I think he will study harder this time. Oh, it’s very hot today.
- I’II open the window.