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3 Shades of Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are essential in the English language and sentence construction. A modal verb is used with other verbs in expressing different things such as obligation, possibility, and ability. Less than 5 percent of modal verbs are used in academic writing and they are followed by the perfect infinitive. There are also funny combined modal verbs that are used in academic writing. Here is a grammar infographic about modal verbs, including in the third person that you should know. Do you also know something about sentence correction?

modal verbs rules

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Reasons to Use Modal Verbs

Knowing the modal verbs rules is important just like knowing when to use modal verbs. Modal verbs are used in expressing speculation, certainty or probability. If you like to talk about skill or express ability, then you can use modal verbs. Also, you can use them in expressing necessity or obligation as well giving advice.

Uses of Modal Verbs

  1. Ability
  2. Permission
  3. Necessity
  4. Prohibition
  5. Possibility
  6. Lack of necessity

Modal Verbs Rules: Must Know Rules

Many people find modal verbs confusing. Here is an introduction of modal verbs examples.

  • Can: It is used in showing that something is possible. For example:

You can wash your clothes if you want.

  • Ought to/ should: It provides advice as well as talks about duty with ought to and should. For example:

I think you should pay attention to what the speaker is saying.

I ought to cut the foam while I am not busy.

  • Have to/must: They have the same meaning and they are strong words.

The modal verbs are auxiliary verbs used in indicating ability, permission, obligation, habits, advice, and likelihood.

When Not to Use Modal Verbs

  • Do not use the modal verb in making a positive form.
  • Do not use the modal verbs with an infinitive form.

Note: There are funny combined modal verbs, but still they are correct. Also, except for modal verbs, a singular form of the third person in “simple present” tense always end in –s: he runs, he walks, he climbs, etc. In using modal verbs in the third person, remember the rules of using it.

Remember: The third person being used in the simple present tense of the verb must always end in “s”. Samples are runs, climbs, jumps, walks….

Modal Verbs Examples

  • Past simple: Sorry I am late. I had to complete my requirements.
  • Present perfect: He had to return to Canada within a short notice.
  • Future: You have to work hard if you want to become successful.
  • Infinitive: You don’t want to be with them all the time.
  • Past simple: I wasn’t able to run until I was 8 years old.
  • Present simple: You haven’t solved the problem yet. Can I help?
  • Future infinitive: I would love to play the guitar.

If you want to learn about modal verbs, you can use the grammar infographic as your guide. Finally, do not forget using modal verbs and past participle when needed to make the sentence correct.

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