Modal verbs express the speaker's attitude to the action indicated by the main verb. Examples: "I can paint" means the speaker believes he has the ability to paint. "I might paint" means the speaker believes there is a possibility for that to happen. "I will paint" means the speaker has the intention to paint.
CONSTRUCTION Modal verb + infinitive (without “to”) Infinitives: Indefinite, e.g. to go, to think, to break Continuous, e.g. to be going, to be breaking Perfect, e.g. to have gone, to have thought, to have broken Perfect Continuous, e.g. to have been going
CONSTRUCTION Modal verb + infinitive (without “to”) I could swim at the beach. I could be swimming at the beach right now. I could have swum at the beach yesterday. I could have been swimming at the beach instead of working in the office.
CAN 1. Mental or physical ability. He can multiply big numbers in his mind. She can carry heavy bags from the grocery herself. Absence of mental or physical ability. She cannot speak German. He cannot ride a bike. 2. Asking about mental or physical ability. Can you ride a bike? Can you speak English?
CAN 3. (Asking for) Informal permission. Can I see that green hat please? You can use my phone if you like. 4. Polite request. Could you help me with the report? 5. Prohibition according to rules or circumstances. You cannot cross the street under the red light. You cannot play football in the street. You cannot go for a walk because it’s cold outside. You cannot have ice cream because you have a sore throat.
CAN 6. Possibility, impossibility. He usually finishes work at 5 so he can be at home now. Anyone can become rich and famous if they know the right people. It can't cost more than a dollar or two. You can't be 45! I thought you were about 18 years old. 7. Disbelief. He can’t behave like this. She can’t be visiting church on Sundays. She doesn’t believe in God. He can’t have said that!
MAY 1. (Asking for) formal permission. May I come in? (when not sure that you will be allowed to) May I start my presentation? (when not sure that you will be allowed to) May I borrow your car? You may leave the table now that you're finished with your dinner. You may break the rules today. Children may use the pool with adult supervision. (May vs. Can – Можно войти? Да, можно.)
MAY 2. Prohibition (not strict). You may not enter the room because… 3. Very mild order. You may want to do exercise 5 on page 16. 4. Probability. It may rain. They may be a happy couple. He may be sleeping now.
MUST 1. Duty You must do your English homework. 2. Necessity. Students must pass an entrance examination to study at this school. 3. Prohibition depending on the will of the speaker. You mustn’t go for a walk because I say so.
MUST 4. Strong advice You must take some time off and get some rest. You must come and see my new flat. 5. Certainty. He must be at home now. I can see the light in his windows. He must have forgotten to buy the tickets.
SHOULD 1. Advice You should change your job. You should not change your job. 2. Late advice You should have changed your job last year. 3. Obligation I really should be in the office by 7:00 AM.
MIGHT 1. Possibility. Your purse might be in the living room. 2. Suggestion. You might visit the botanical gardens during your visit. You might try the cheesecake. 3. Reproach You might have married him.
NEED 1. Necessity. Need I pay now? 2. Absence of necessity. You need not worry. He need not take the exam. Compare I needn’t have watered the flowers because it rained. I didn’t have to wake up early.
TO BE TO 1. Prearranged necessity. She was to become his wife. I'm to work in London next year (I'm going to / have to work in London.....) I'm to make three of these cakes ( I must / am supposed to make three..... ) He's to stand as candidate for the presidency ( He is going to stand.....) The children were to stay at home that afternoon (The children were meant to / were going to.....) After that, they were to get lost. (After that, they were going to get lost). After that, they were to go home (After that, they were supposed to go home). You're to get better marks next time. (You must get better marks....) When you get home, you're to go straight to bed. (When you get home, you must go straight to bed).
OUGHT TO 1. Moral obligation We ought to help our elderly relatives.