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Y10 Modal Verbs

Yellow Level

Lesson Ten:

Modal Verbs

Modal Verb
Example in a sentence


possibility and ability

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YouTube video

This baby can crawl.

I can crawl
We can crawl
You can crawl
You can crawl
He can crawl
She can crawl
They can crawl
It can crawl

negative contraction: can’t crawl



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YouTube video

He will go to the beach later today.

I will go
We will go
You will go
You will go
He will go
She will go
They will go
It will go

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.

I may walk
We may walk
You may walk
You may walk
He may walk
She may walk
They may walk
It may walk

negative: may not walk (don’t contract this one!)

  1. past tense of can–usually negative.

  2. possibility and ability

When I went out to eat last night, I couldn’t read the signs because they were in Chinese.

I could read
We could read
You could read
You could read
He could read
She could read
They could read
It could read

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.

I would touch
We would touch
You would touch
You would touch
He would touch
She would touch
They would touch
It would touch

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.

I should be
We should be
You should be
You should be
He should be
She should be
They should be
It should be

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.

I might break
We might break
You might break
You might break
He might break
She might break
They might break
It might break

negative: might not break (don’t contract!)


necessary and important

They must attend this important meeting.

I must attend
We must attend
You must attend
You must attend
He must attend
She must attend
They must attend
It must attend

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.


Next: Lesson Eleven

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