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Friday Message: Modal Verbs

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ABA English: Friday Message |
Friday Message

Modal Verbs
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Beginners - Unit 8

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The words “should” and “might” are called modal verbs. Modal verbs are very common in English when we want to express possibility, ability and obligation, amongst other things.

Here is a list of some of the most common modal verbs and the main thing or things they express. This is not an exhaustive list.

should - advice or suggestions
could – possibility
would - a desire or a wish
might – probability
ought to - advice or suggestions. “ought to” is more formal than “should”.
can – ability
must - strong obligation or advice

Look at the following text containing some of the above modal verbs:

Matthew is a doctor. He works at Brighton General Hospital. Matthew must wake up at 6 o'clock every morning in order to get to work on time. He lives 45 miles from the hospital but he doesn't have a car so he takes the train and then a bus. All his friends think he ought to buy a car, but he tells them he can’t afford it. Matthew believes people shouldn’t buy a car unless it's absolutely necessary and that they should use public transport, because cars pollute the air and cause many diseases.

Here are a few useful things to remember about modal verbs:

• We can’t put two modal verbs together. Here’s an example:

He might can come to the party.
He might be able to come to the party.

• You can’t conjugate modal verbs. For example:

He musts buy milk later.
He must buy milk later.

• After a modal verb we use the base form of the verb, i.e. the infinitive without “to”, for example:

He can to swim.
He can swim.

I hope this has helped you understand modal verbs better. For general information on modal verbs, go to unit 49 of the online ABA course. You will study each of the verbs in more detail in the subsequent units.

Have a nice weekend!

See you soon!

Best wishes,

Graham Weeks

Your ABA Teacher
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