Modal Verbs in English: Usage & Examples

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

CAN

To express:

  • Ability
  • Permission
  • Probability

Examples:

  • I can speak Spanish.
  • Can I go to the bathroom?
  • It can’t be Mark. He is in London.

COULD

To express:

  • Past ability
  • Past permission
  • Probability (40%)
  • Request

Examples:

  • 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.

MAY

To express:

  • Probability(50%)
  • Permission

Examples:

  • It may snow tomorrow.
  • May I come in?

MIGHT

To express:

  • Probability (35% or less)

Example:

  • It might rain today.

MUST

To express:

  • Prohibition
  • Deduction/probability(100%)

Examples:

  • You mustn’t speak loudly. This is the hospital.
  • The teacher must be Mark. I’ve seen his bicycle outside.

SHOULD

To express:

  • Advice

Example:

  • You shouldn’t smoke. It is unhealthy.

WILL

To express:

  • Prediction
  • Spontaneous decision

Examples:

  • I think he will study harder this time. Oh, it’s very hot today.
  • I’II open the window.

Modal Verb List | Image

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julie jane
julie jane
2 years ago

It’s nice to learn more of modal verbs.thank you.

ruqiyo
ruqiyo
2 years ago

It helps me lot thank to you Natalie

Rokhsareh
Rokhsareh
2 years ago

Thanks Natalie this is the best way to learn verbs and it was very helpful for me.

Rokhsareh
Rokhsareh
2 years ago

This is the best way to learn verbs and it was very helpful for me. Thanks Natalie

Sarath
Sarath
2 years ago

Yeah it’s so nice and easy to learn for everyone,

Victor
Victor
2 years ago

Great review. Thanks a lot. From Peru.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Nice, but what about WOULD, SHALL and OUGHT TO?

Alexandra
Alexandra
11 months ago

Very kind of you to share this great information. Thank you!

joseph munguia
joseph munguia
8 months ago

Really good information.

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