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

Modal Verbs

5 Comments

  1. julie jane March 27, 2019
  2. ruqiyo April 4, 2019
  3. Rokhsareh April 10, 2019
  4. Rokhsareh April 10, 2019
  5. Sarath May 9, 2019

Leave a Reply