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Modal auxiliary verbs are used to moderate the main verb, that is to enhance or restrict the
verb to a certain context.

The most common modal auxiliaries in English are:

can may might must

could should will would

Notice the usage of modals in the following sentences:

I pay my taxes. General declaration of fact. Paying taxes is

something I normally do.

I can pay my taxes. Expresses ability. I have the means (funds) to


I might pay my taxes. Expresses possibility, but not certainty.

Maybe I will pay; maybe I won't.

I will pay my taxes. Expresses future intent. I resolve to do it at

some later time.

I should pay my taxes. Expresses mild obligation. It is required, and

I expect to comply.

I could pay my taxes. Expresses possibility. If I have nothing else

to do with the money, I might pay taxes.

I would pay my taxes. (In this case), expresses reservation. If I had

the money (but I don't). . .

I must pay my taxes. Expresses strong obligation. I am required

and have to comply.

Modals are followed by only the base form of the verb and are not used alone unless there
is a clear connection to a main verb.

He must to finish his homework. WRONG

He must finish his homework. RIGHT

Jack could heard the bell. WRONG

Jack could hear the bell. RIGHT

Penny will going to the movie. WRONG

Penny will go to the movie. RIGHT

There are many ways to make requests in English. The most common involves using the
imperative and modals. See the examples below:

Using the Imperative

The imperative is the simple form of the verb. The

subject of an imperative sentence is understood as "you" although it is usually not spoken.

Open the door. (You) open the door.

Will you help me? Yes, I will (help you).

Pick up your toys. (You) pick up your toys.

Please help me. (You) please help me.

The imperative is often used by persons of authority when speaking to subordinates, e.g.
parent to child.

Using Modals

To show respect and politeness, most people use modal

expressions when making requests. For example:

Will you...? Will you open the door for me?

Would you...? Would you open the door for me?

Would you please...? Would you please open the door (for me)?

Could you (please)...? Could you (please)...? Could you (please) open the door?

Could you possibly...? Could you possibly open the door?

Would you kindly...? Would you kindly open the door?

Would you mind (Ving )...? Would you mind opening the door?

Would you be so kind as to...? Would you be so kind as to open the door?
Common Problems with Modals

1. Using "to" unnecessarily:

Incorrect Correct

They going to meet us at the theater. They are going to meet us at the theater.

He should to eat his dinner. He should eat his dinner.

I had better to go now. I had better go now.

You must not to use that pencil. You must not use that pencil.
2. Using anything but the base form after a modal:
John could heard the bell. John could hear the bell.

Penny will going to the movie. Penny will go to the movie.

3. Using double modals:
You should ought to speak English. You ought to speak English. /should speak

She might can help me. She might be able to help me.
4. Omitting "be" in certain modal expressions:
They are going to meet us at the theater.
They going to meet us at the theater.

Jack supposed to take his medicine.

Jack is supposed to take his medicine.
5. Using wrong word order in questions:
How I can help you? How can I help you?

Where I should go for the meeting? Where should I go for the meeting?
Correct the mistakes

1. He always washs every clothes on Sunday.

2. She walks in the park this morning.
3. The floor is sweep by the servant everyday.
4. He wore his father’s coat and shoes.
5. John, the boy who is wearing a red hat is my best friend.
6. Joe borrows many money from the bank.
7. We never don’t buy new house every year.
8. Does the police catches the robbery on Monday?
9. She never go to Jakarta nowadays.
10. The sun set in the west and rises in the east.
11. Frances usually eats a bar of chocolates and drink a glasses of milk.
12. I, as well as my brother love playing football on Wednesday.
13. My parents often visits me every month.
14. Could you told me how big the whale is? The blue whale are the larger animal in the
15. Everybody on this team tries really hard to please the new coach.

16. Joe and Jim has been friends for a long time. They are neighbors and plays in a band.
17. Anyone who wants to try out needs to make an appointment.
18. The doctor and her husband take a trip to Mexico each year.
19. A few of the students is doing so well they can skip the next course.
20. The speaker together with his two wives are going to be invited for the party.