Modals | Modal verb | Modals in English Grammar

MODALS

DEFINITION: – Modals are those helping verbs that express the mode of the action denoted by the main verb.

⇒ Family of the Modals: – following are the members of the family of the modals, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, might, must, ought to, used to, need, dare.
Some interesting facts about the Modals: – Modals are used to express action like;-   ability, power, permission, request, possibility, willingness, etc.

SHOULD

SHOULD: – is the past tense (past form) of shall, but in many cases, it is used in the present context in
the following ways:-
To express the future in the past tense: –

  • I told him that I should go to Mumbai the next day.
  • He said that you should report for duty on Monday.

To express Duty or Obligation: –

  • We should respect our elders.
  • You should always speak the truth.
  • We should help the poor.

To express Advice or Suggestion: –

  • You should work hard to pass the examination.
  • You should go out for a morning walk daily.
  • The government should set up new industries.
  • She should not go out barefoot.

To express Request: –

  • I should like to say that he is not to blame.
  • We should like to say that they have not done this mischief.

To Express Surprise: –

  • It is really sad that he should lose in the first round.
  • It is very surprising that they should lose the match.

To express Supposition or Improbable action: –

  • Should they work hard, they will pass.
  • Should you go to the market, bring a picture-book for me.

⇒  With lest in order to express Purpose: –

  • I worked hard lest I should fail.
  • Walk fast lest you should miss the train.
  • Take a light diet lest you should fail.

To make Conditional Sentences: –

  • Should it rain, we shall not go out.
  • Should you speak the truth, I shall pardon you.

WOULD

WOULD: – is the past tense of will and it is used in the following ways: –

As the Future Tense of Past in Indirect Speech: –

  • He said that he would not take tea.
  • He told me that he would go to Nagpur on Monday.

To express Past Habit: –

  • She would go out for a walk daily.
  • Gandhiji would spin every morning.
  • He would sit and talk all day.

To express Determination: –

  • I would stand by him in any trouble.
  • He would do it whether you like it or not.
  • He would go out for a walk regularly.

To express Suggestion: –

  • Would you take care of your health?
  • Would you study regularly?

To express Polite request: –

  • Would you please give me your book?
  • Would you take a cup of tea?
  • Would you please give me your bicycle?

To express Wish or Desire: –

  • Would that I were a king!
  • Would that I were rich!
  • Would that I were a child again!
  • I wish you would go away!

To express Preference: –

  • I would prefer death to dishonor.
  • He would rather starve than beg.
  • I would rather fail than copy in the examination.

To express Condition:-

  • Had you worked hard, you would have passed.
  • If he had walked fast, he would have caught the train.
  • If I were rich, I would buy a car.

CAN

CAN: – means to be able to or know how to. It is used to express strength – may it be physical, mental or of the official authority, of wealth, etc. it is used as follow: –

⇒ To express Ability: –

  • He can speak English fluently.
  • I can solve this question easily.
  • The Headmaster can remit the fine.

⇒ To express Possibility: –

  • The Principal can also find him.
  • Anyone can read this letter.
  • Children can be spoiled.

To express Permission: –

  • You can go for a picnic now.
  • You can go home after doing your work.
  • You cannot leave the office without my permission.

⇒ In the form of Phrase: –

  • I cannot help laughing.
  • The child cannot help weeping.

⇒ To express Disposition: –

  • She can tell a lie at any time.
  • We cannot believe them because they can cheat us.

COULD

COULD: – is the past tense of a can and is used in the indirect form as follows:-

⇒ Past Tense of Power: –

  • I asked him if the Headmaster could give me admission.
  • He asked me if I could help him.
  • I asked him if he could play football.

⇒ Past Tense of Ability: –

  • I could solve the whole paper in one hour.
  • She could not climb the tree.
  • He could sing and speak well.
  • The patient tried to walk, but he could not.

⇒ Polite Request: –

  • Could you spare some time for me?
  • Could you lend me your book?
  • Could you please post this letter?

⇒ Past Tense of Possibility: –

  • You could have caught the train if you had run fast.
  • If he had taken the medicines regularly, he could have recovered earlier.
  • If I had spare money, I could buy that beautiful watch.

⇒ Feeling of Impatience: –

  • What could I do now?
  • How could it happen?

⇒ As Phrase in Past Time: –

  • The child couldn’t help weeping.
  • The Headmaster couldn’t help giving him admission.

MAY

MAY: – is used in the following sense: –

⇒ To express Permission: –

  • May I come in, sir?

    Yes, you may.

  • May I use this pen?

    Yes, you may.

  • You may go there.

⇒ Possibility: –

  • It may rain today.
  • You may get a prize.
  • She may be at home.
  • The road may be blocked.

⇒ Purpose: –

  • We eat so that we may live.
  • He works hard so that he may pass.
  • I go out for a morning walk so that I may be healthy.

⇒ Wish or Prayer: –

  • May you live long!
  • May God bless you with a son!
  • May her soul rest in peace!

MIGHT

MIGHT: – Past tense or past form of may.

⇒ The Past Tense of May: –

  • The teacher said that he might go home.
  • I asked him if I might see his watch.

⇒ Purpose: –

  • He ran fast so that he might catch the train.
  • He played well so that he might win the match.
  • She wore new clothes so that she might look beautiful.

⇒ Remote Possibility: –

  • He has not worked hard, but he might pass.
  • She is working hard, she might win a scholarship.
  • Sarla has not attended my birthday party, but she might send a gift.

⇒ Possibility: –

  • The teacher said that I might win a scholarship.
  • The doctor said that the patient might recover soon.

⇒ Permission: –

  • The teacher said that we might go for a picnic.
  • The captain said that we might play the match.

⇒ Future Condition: –

  • If he gets money, he might go to England.
  • If she works hard, she might top the class.
  • If they play well, they might defeat the opposite team.

⇒ Good Wishes in the past: –

  • The teacher wished that I might live long.
  • We wished that India might win the match.
  • She wore new clothes so that she might look beautiful.

⇒ Remote Possibility: –

  • He has not worked hard, but he might pass.
  • She is working hard, she might win a scholarship.
  • Sarla has not attended my birthday party, but she might send a gift.

⇒ Possibility: –

  • The teacher said that I might win a scholarship.
  • The doctor said that the patient might recover soon.

⇒ Permission: –

  • The teacher said that we might go for a picnic.
  • The captain said that we might play the match.

⇒ Future Condition: –

  • If he gets money, he might go to England.
  • If she works hard, she might top the class.
  • If they play well, they might defeat the opposite team.

⇒ Good Wishes in the past: –

  • The teacher wished that I might live long.
  • We wished that India might win the match.

MUST

MUST: – is used to express the following: –

⇒ Necessity: –

  • You must help your friend in the hour of need.
  • You must run fast to catch the train.
  • You must work hard to get good marks.
  • We must save something for our future.

⇒ Obligation: –

  • Soldiers must obey their commanders.
  • Parents must look after their children.

⇒ Determination:

  • I must leave for Chandigarh today.
  • I must try my luck.
  • I must finish this work today.

⇒ Compulsion: –

  • We must follow the rules of the road.
  • You must not hurt others‟ feelings.

⇒ Certainty or Belief: –

  • He must have lost his temper.
  • She must have broken my slate.
  • He must be the Principal of the school.

⇒ Emphatic Advice: –

  • You must learn your lessons regularly.
  • They must serve their old parents.
  • You must give up smoking.

⇒ Possibility: –

  • He must have received my letter by now.
  • The teacher must have finished his course at this time.

⇒ Expectation: –

  • There must be a mistake somewhere.
  • The must be something wrong in her mind.

⇒ Prohibition: –

  • You must not leave the class without my permission.
  • You must not touch my books.
  • You must not leave home without taking breakfast.

OUGHT TO: –

 Moral Duty or Obligation in Present Tense: –

  • You ought to obey your teachers.
  • We ought to respect our elders.
  • You ought to serve your country.

⇒ Moral Duty or Obligation in Past Tense: –

  • You ought to have worked hard.
  • You ought to have run fast.
  • You ought to have done this.

⇒ Advice:

  • You ought to consult a good doctor.
  • You ought to read a good storybook.
  • We ought to walk fast as we are getting late.

⇒ Strong Probability: –

  • He is very hard-working; he ought to win a scholarship.
  • He is a very good race; he ought to win a championship.
  • The film ought to be a great success.
  • Sita ought to win.

USED TO

⇒ Used to: – is used to express some past habit. It is used in the following types of sentences: –

  • Gandhiji used to spin for an hour daily.
  • When I was young, I used to work for twelve hours.
  • He used to pay us a visit every now and then.

⇒ Negative Sentences: –

  • She used not to tell lies.
  • He used not to smoke, but now he is a chain smoker.
  • There used not to be so much traffic.

⇒ Interrogative Sentences: –

  • Used him to drink when he was young?
  • Used her to work hard when she was a student?
  • Used you to go there?

⇒ Other usages of „used to: –

  • She is used to taking tea. {She is in the habit of taking tea}
  • I am used to a simple life.
  • He got used to rising early.
  • We are not used to telling lies.

DARE

DARE: – is used both as the Principal Verb and as Defective Verb; –
⇒ DARE AS A LEXICON VERB: –

  • As a principal verb, dare means to challenge, to face, to oppose.
  • It is used with all the tenses and is followed by two in affirmative sentences.

Example; –

  • He dares to face his enemy.
  • He dared to face his enemy.
  • Some of the older boys had dared him to do it.

DARE AS A DEFECTIVE VERB: –

  • As a defective verb, dare means to venture.
  • As a defective verb, it is used only in the negative and interrogative sentences.
  • In this form, it does not take to.

Example: –

  • He dare not face his enemy.
  • He dared not face his enemy.
  • He did not dare say what he thought.

NEED

NEED: – is used as the principal verb and also as a defective verb: –
⇒ When it is used as a principal verb, it means to stand in need of.
Example: –

  • I need his help.
  • He does not need my help.
  • Does he need your help?
  • I needed his help.

⇒ NEED AS A DEFECTIVE VERB: –

  • Need as a defective verb is used in the negative and interrogative sentences: –
  1. In negative and interrogative sentences, need is used to express weakness, necessity or obligation.
  2. In this form, it can be used only in the present tense.

Examples: –

  • I need not to go there.
  • You need not worry.
  • He need not go.
  • She needs to lie down because she is tired.
  • Need he go there?
  • Need I say more?
  • Need you go home so soon?
  • Need I return you the book?

⇒ SHALL AND WILL: – Mistakes are generally committed in the use of shall and will. Wrong use of shall and will can change the meaning of the sentence altogether. Please see the following table carefully.

Modal

First person

Second/third person

I, we, our mine, etc.

You, your, he, she, it Rama,
etc.

Shall

Simple futurity

Threat/Definite
things/promise/command/
determination

Will

Threat/Promise/intention/
Determination

Simple futurity

From the above table, it becomes clear that: –
⇒ Shall with the first person is used simply to express simple future tense. But it is possible only in the case of assertive sentences: –

  • I Shall buy a car.
  • When shall we see you again?
  • I shall go.
  • I shall be thirty next birthday.

⇒ Shall can also be used with second/third person (you, your, he, she, it, Rama, etc.)
If the sentence conveys the sense of a threat: –

  • You shall be punished if you do not change your habits.
  • You shall be fired if you do not mend your ways.

⇒ If the sentence conveys the sense of a promise: –

  • He shall be given a reward for his ability.
  • You shall have a holiday tomorrow.

⇒ If the sentence conveys the sense of order: –

  • You shall have to take action against him.
  • Candidates shall remain in their seats until all the papers have been collected.

⇒ If the sentence conveys the sense of certainty or determination: –

  • If you secure the first position, you shall be given a new watch.
  • You shall do what I command.

Will in an assertive sentence, expresses simple future tense with second and third persons.

⇒ If the sentence conveys the sense of a threat: –

  • I will punish you if you do not speak the truth.
  • I will kill you.

⇒ If the sentence conveys the sense of a promise; –

  • I will surely help her.
  • I will try to do better the next time.

If the sentence conveys the sense of a promise:-

  • I will surely help her.
  • I will try to do better the next time.

⇒ If the sentence conveys a sense of determination: –

  • I will never tell a lie.
  • I will succeed or die in the attempt.

⇒ If the sentence gives a sense of intention:-

  • I will go to Bangalore tomorrow.
  • I will not steal.

You learned from this article –

  • Modals
  • Modal verb
  • Modals meaning
  • Family of the Modals
  • Modals pronunciation
  • Modals in English Grammar Class 8/9/10/11

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Tense Chart in English – Tense Types, Definition, Rules

Past Tense | Simple Past Tense – Formula and Charts

Present Tense | Simple Present Tense – Formula and Charts

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