ENGLISH ONLY

Hey guys,

here´s a further explanation for modal verbs. I hope it´s a bit clearer and more useful. Exercises at the bottom of the post!

Enjoy!

Can

Used to express ability (to be able to do something):

  • I can make jewelry.
  • He can’t speak French.
  • Can you open this jar?

Used to ask for permission:

  • Can I use your bathroom?
  • Can I leave now?
  • Can I raise the volume?

Used to make requests or suggestions:

  • Can I have more napkins?
  • Can I have the bill?
  • You can take this spot if you like.
  • You can do whatever you want.

Could (past form of can)

Describes an ability that someone had in the past:

  • I could swim when I was young.
  • You could see the boat sinking.
  • They could tell he was nervous.

Often used in auxiliary functions to express permission politely:

  • Could I take this jacket with me?
  • You could borrow my umbrella.
  • Could you please let me pass you?
  • Could I get you more water?

Used to express possibility:

  • All of them could ride in the van.
  • You could always stay at our house.
  • Could it be true?
  • This plan could really work out.

May

Used to ask for formal permission:

  • May I come in?
  • May I say something now?
  • May I ask one question?

Used to suggest something that is possible:

  • She may agree with this plan.
  • They may not be happy about what happened.
  • It may shower tonight.

Might (past form of may)

Used to suggest a smaller possibility than may does (actually, might is more common than may in American English):

  • He might have finished it.
  • I might go see a doctor.
  • I might not come this time.
  • It might be right.
  • You might have lost it.
  • The store might have been closed today.

Must

Used to express something formally required or necessary:

  • I must complete the project by this week.
  • The government must provide health care for everybody.
  • Everyone must save the natural resources of the earth.
  • The building must have a fire alarm.
  • You must answer my question right now.

Used to show that something is very likely:

  • He must be a genius.
  • You must be joking!
  • There must be an accident.
  • She must be very tired.

Have To

“Have to” is used to express certainty, necessity, and obligation.

Examples:

  • This answer has to be correct. certainty
  • The soup has to be stirred continuously to prevent burning. necessity
  • They have to leave early. obligation

[Quiz]


Choose the right word for each blank.

1) She                      (can, could, may, might, must) have practiced a lot. Her performance was amazing.

 

2) I can’t find my watch anywhere. I                      (can, could, may, might, must) have lost it.
3) Professor,                      (can, could, may, might, must) I ask a question?
4)                      (can, could, may, might, must) you please lower your voice?
5) You                      (can, could, may, might, must) be kidding! How is that possible?
6) I                      (can, could, may, might, must) speak both English and Chinese fluently.

 Answers

1) must
2) might
3) may
4) could
5) must
6) can

Follow these links for further practice:

http://www.esl-lounge.com/student/grammar/1g101-elementary-can-could-gap-fill-exercise.php

http://www.esl-lounge.com/student/grammar/2g54-different-uses-of-can-exercise.php

http://www.esl-lounge.com/student/grammar/3g1-can-be-able.php

http://www.englishpage.com/modals/interactivemodal1.htm

http://www.englishpage.com/modals/interactivemodal2.htm

 

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