Modal Verbs

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Hello everyone!

This grammar session is for those who can’t understand or still have some questions about the use of some modal verbs.


They are a type of verb that is used to indicate modality – that is, probability, ability, permission, suggestion and obligation.

Here is a list of all the modal verbs, including their use and some examples.

Modal Example Uses
Can They can control their own budgets.

We can’t fix it.

Can I smoke here?

Can you help me?

Ability / Possibility

Inability / Impossibility

Asking for permission


Could Could I borrow your dictionary?

Could you say it again more slowly?

We could try to fix it ourselves.

I think we could have another Gulf War.

He gave up his old job so he could work for us.

Asking for permission.



Future possibility

Ability in the past

May May I have another cup of coffee?

China may become a major economic power.

Asking for permission

Future possibility

Might We’d better phone tomorrow, they might be eating their dinner now.

They might give us a 10% discount.

Present possibility

Future possibility

Must We must say good-bye now.

They mustn’t disrupt the work more than necessary.

Necessity / Obligation


Ought to We ought to employ a professional writer. Saying what’s right or correct

(More common in the UK than the US)

Shall I help you with your luggage?

Shall we say 2.30 then?

Shall I do that or will you?



Asking what to do

Should We should sort out this problem at once.

I think we should check everything again.

Profits should increase next year.

Saying what’s right or correct

Recommending action

Uncertain prediction

Will I can’t see any taxis so I’ll walk.

I’ll do that for you if you like.

I’ll get back to you first thing on Monday.

Profits will increase next year.

Instant decisions



Certain prediction

Would Would you mind if I brought a colleague with me?

Would you pass the salt please?

Would you mind waiting a moment?

“Would three o`clock suit you?” – “That’d be fine.”

Would you like to play golf this Friday?

“Would you prefer tea or coffee?” – “I’d like tea please.”

Asking for permission



Making arrangements



Some exercises to practice:










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