Modal Verbs! Learn modal verb definition and how to use modal verbs in English with useful grammar rules, ESL infographic and example sentences.
List of Modal Verbs
What is a modal verb?
The modal verbs of English are a small class of auxiliary verbs used to express possibility, obligation, advice, permission, ability, …
Modal verbs list in the English language: Can, Could, May, Might, Will, Would, Must, Shall, Should, Ought to…
Modal Verbs: Rules & Examples
Learn how and when to use modal verbs in English with rules and example sentences.
1. To indicate that something is probable or possible, or not so.
- It is sunny today; it must be warm outside. = It is sunny today; it is probably warm outside.
- His mobile is not reachable; he may/might/could be travelling by metro. = His mobile is not reachable; it is possible that he is travelling by metro.
- This can’t be our bill. = It is not possible that this is our bill.
2. ‘Can’ and ‘could’ are used to refer to skills and abilities.
- He can cover a hundred metres in under ten seconds.
- My father could see perfectly before the age of fifty.
- I can’t ride a horse.
3. ‘Must’ is used to indicate that something is necessary or of extreme importance, and ‘should’ is used to suggest that something is advisable.
- You must do your homework.
- You mustn’t skip school.
- You should say sorry.
- You shouldn’t smoke.
4. ‘Can’, ‘could’ and ‘may’ are used to ask for, give and withhold permission.
- Can I try my hand at it?
- Could we disperse early today?
- You may not enter the premises.
5. ‘Will’ and ‘would’ are used to refer to habits and inclinations.
- When I was a child, I would often climb trees.
- I will never refuse you anything.
- He would never do such a thing.
Note: These verbs differ from ordinary verbs in 3 respects.
- When used with the third person singular (he, she), they don’t require the addition of an ‘s’.
- They can be used to form questions by inverting the structure of the sentence.
- They can be followed directly by the verb, without the use of ‘to’.