Example in a sentence
possibility and ability
This baby can crawl.
negative contraction: can’t crawl
He will go to the beach later today.
negative contraction: won’t go
possibility and future possibility
|This sounds so formal I’m going to recommend that you not use it. Shall is not popular. (One less word to remember!)||Your teacher recommends that you don’t use shall if your interest is in American English. 98 % of the American public doesn’t use it. It sounds very formal. In fact, it sounds too formal. (blech!)|
possiblity and permission
1. (future possibility) They may walk their dogs this afternoon.
2. (Asking permission)
A: May I walk your dog?
B: Yes, you may.
negative: may not walk (don’t contract this one!)
When I went out to eat last night, I couldn’t read the signs because they were in Chinese.
negative contraction: couldn’t read
past tense of “will”
Click here for more examples of how to use the modal verb “would.”
She wouldn’t touch the spider she saw earlier this morning because she’s afraid of them.
negative contraction: wouldn’t touch
recommendation and good idea.
(Related to “shall” but much better and easier to use.)
He should be careful on those rollerskates because he could fall.
negative contraction: shouldn’t be
(use instead of “may” in some cases)
These eggs might break when they hit the ground. In fact, they’ll probably break unless they land on something soft.
negative: might not break (don’t contract!)
necessary and important
They must attend this important meeting.
negative: must not attend (a contraction here is okay, but it sounds formal and it sounds British. Most Americans try not to sound like they have a British accent, but you may use the contraction if you want to)
Remember: Modal verbs are followed by the main verb in the simple form.
I must go.
He must be tired.
They should eat.
NOW TAKE A QUIZ
Next: Lesson Eleven