Modal Verbs And The Functions

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Modal verbs are special verbs (like must, have to, can, would, etc) which have certain function. Modals or modal auxiliary verbs are used to give the additional information or explanation about the function of the main verb that we use in a sentence. Modals have special characteristics.

They never change their form and they are always followed by infinitive without “to”. For example, we use “would go” not “would to go”. Commonly, modal verbs are used to express certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, and ability.

Modals and Their Functions

ModalFunction : to expressExample
Mustcertainty conclucionThat man has a lot of expensive cars. He must be very rich.
strong obligationChildren must obey their parents.
prohibitionYou must not smoke here!
Should/
ought to
logical conclusionHe should be tired. He’s been doing his homework all night long.
obligationYou ought to start working at once.
advice or tipsI think you should go to hospital.
Had betterstrong adviceWe had better hurry because we’re almost late.
CanabilityHe can answer these questions.
possibilitySmoking can cause cancer.
permissionYou can go home now.
Couldability in the pastWhen he was ten, he could answer these questions.
possibilityIf you want, we could go to the movies.
polite permissionCould I say something?
MaypermissionMay I use your computer?
possibility, probabilityShe may be too busy to help you right now.
Mightpolite permissionMight I use your computer?
possibility, probabilityYou might become president one day.
Willinvitation, requestWill you come in, please?
logical possibilityAs a result, the market will close earlier than usual today.
Wouldwill in pastHe said he would celebratehis birthday at home.
polite demand, invitationWould you sit down, please?
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We can also classify modal verbs according to their functions.
UseExplanationModal in example
Logical possibilitystrongestAnne looks very relaxed. She must know the answers to all these questions.
strongerAs a result, Mr. president will go to South Sumatera earlier than the schedule.
strongThis aplication would not work well everyday.
strongHe should be tired. He’s been working all day long.
strong enoughHe may be too busy to help you right now.
weakSmoking can cause impotent.
weakIf I have spare time, we could go to the movies.
weakThey might have nothing to do at the moment, but I’m not sure.
ObligationstrongEverybody must wear a uniform at the ceremony.
weak (50%)You should go to your grandmother’s home.
Permissionmost politeMay I borrow your magazine?
politeCould I use your pen? I don’t see mine.
impoliteCan I use your computer?
AbilityStrongShe can answer all these questions.
weakI could easily jump over the wall when i was younger.