Modals Exercises - English Grammar

They are Auxiliary verbs that provide additional and specific meaning to the main verb of the sentence.

How to we Use Modals


They do not accept conjugation. They do not need other auxiliary verbs
There is no“s”in singular

There is no“do / does”in the question

There is no“don’t / doesn’t” in the negative

For Example

  • He can ski (correct )
    He cans ski or He can skis (wrong)
  • Would you like to come with me? (correct )
    Do you would like to come with me? (wrong)
  • They can’t be serious (correct )
    They don’t can be serious (wrong)

Modal verbs do not have infinitives or – ing forms
to can / caning , to must /musting
Modal verbs are followed by an infinitive without to

  • She must study (strong obligation)
  • We should have gone the other way (recommendation)
  • He could play football in his youth (ability in the past)

Modal verbs do not have all the tenses
Modal verbs use other verbs to complete the tenses
Can is completed with be able to
Must is completed with have to

For Example

  • They can play the piano → They will be able to play the piano in the future
  • You must come early → You had to come early yesterday

What do they express?
They can have more than one meaning depending on the situations

  • Single Concept Modal: they have one meaning
  • Double Concept Modal: they have two meanings
  • Modals in past : They are used to express a situation in the past

Single concept Modals
Ought to
Had better

Modals in Past
Would have
Could have
Might have
Should have
May have
Must have

Double Concept Modals

Auxiliary, or helping verbs, are used before infinitives to add a different meaning. The following auxiliaries are called Modal Auxiliaries or Modals

Modal Auxiliaries

Modal : Meanings / Functions
Can : ability, permission, request, possibility
Could : ability, formal request, possibility
Shall : futurity, willingness, intention, suggestion, insistence
Should : obligation, necessity, expectation, advisability
Will : willingness, intention, prediction, insistence
Would : willingness, habitual action in the past, probability, wish, desire
May : permission, possibility, wish, purpose, concession
Might : permission, possibility, concession, reproach
Must : necessity, prohibition, compulsion, obligation, deduction, certainty, probability

Semi Modals : Meanings / Functions
Ought to : moral obligation, probability, certainty, advice, necessity, duty,
Use to : discontinued habit
Need : necessity, obligation (used in negative and questions)
Dare : defiance, challenge, boldness (used in negatives and interrogatives)


Modals in the Past

They are modals referred to actions that happened in the past

MODAL + HAVE + verb in past participle

It must have been a difficult decision
They should have invited her to their wedding

Perfect: MUST HAVE + Past Participle
User: Logical conclusion on a past event
Example: Peter has arrived late. He must have been in a traffic jam

Perfect: MAY / MIGHT HAVE + P.P.
User: Deduction on a past event
Example: Joe may / might have taken the wrong train

Perfect: COULD HAVE + P.P.
User: Possibility to do something, gone unfulfilled
Example: You could have played better

Perfect: COULDN’T HAVE + P.P.
User: Certainty that something couldn’t have happened
Example: He couldn’t have passed because you hadn’t studied enough

Perfect: WOULD HAVE + P.P.
User: Desire to do something, but impossibility to do it for external causes
Example: I would have visited you, but I forgot your address

User: Lament on something that should have been done
Example: You should / ought to have warned me earlier

Modals -like verbs

Like to - Enjoy - to watch TV
Want to - Desire - John wants to buy a car
Need to - Necessity - We Really needed to talk to you
Have to - Obligation - Mona had to pay the rent
Have got to - Have to - I have got to go now
Look forward to - Future plan - I look forward to seeing you again

Can or Could

Use can and could to say that someone is able to do something or Can and could are also used for asking for information or help for offering something, and for suggesting something.

He can play the piano.
can + infinitive (can do / can play / can come) etc.

Positive Negative

I / we / you / they / he / she / it

can not



  • I can play the piano. My brother can play the piano too.
  • Nancy can speak English but she can not speak Latin
  • Can you change your dress?
  • Johncy and Nancy can not come to the party next week
  • I ran as fast as I could
  • Nancy could not come to the party because she was ill
  • Mom said I could have ice cream after my dinner
  • I could lend you my cricket ball



Use may to ask if you are allowed to do something, or to give someone permission to do something.

It may rain (Perhaps it will rain) - It might rain (Perhaps it is raining or it will rain)
may or might + infinitive (may go/ might go / may play / might play etc.)

I / we / you / they / he / she / it

may (not)
might (not)


You can use may or might:
may/might = it is possible that something will happen.

  • I may go to the cinema this evening.
  • I might go to the cinema this evening. (= perhaps I will go)
  • Please may I see your ticket?

may/might = ask if you are allowed to do something and to tell someone that they are allowed to do something.

  • May I borrow your pen?
  • Please may I see your ticket?
  • Put your purse away or it might get stolen

The negative is may not or might not:

  • I might not go to work tomorrow. (= perhaps I will not go)
  • She may not come to the party. (= perhaps she will not come)



Use must when you think it is necessary or very important to do something:

The windows are very dirty. I must clean them.
It is a fantastic film. You must see it.
We must go to the bank today. We haven’t got any money.

must + infinitive (must do/ must see etc.)

I / we / you / they / he / she / it



must is present of future :

  • We must go to the bank now.
  • We must go to the bank tomorrow.

For the past (yesterday / last week etc.), we use had to + infinitive (had to go / had to do / had to write etc.) :
I had to go to the bank yesterday. [= It was necessary for me to go the bank].
We had to walk home last night. There was no bus.

must not
I mustn’t do it = it is important not do it. it is a bad thing to do:

  • I must hurry. I must not be late.
  • You must not walk on the grass.

Need not
I need not do it = it is not necessary to do it. I do not need to do it :

  • I need not clean the windows. They are not dirty.
  • You need not go to the bank. I can give you some money.

We can also say do not need to - need not.

  • I don’t need to clean the windows.
  • You don’t need to go to the bank.



(Someone) should do something = it is a good thing to do or the right thing to do:

Akbar should go to bed earlier. He usually goes to bed very late and he’s always tired.
It is good film. You should go and see it.

should + infinitive (should do / should write etc.)

I / we / you / they / he / she / it



Will or Would

Use will when you are order or asking someone to do something.

  • Will you please shutup.
  • Will I carry the bag for you.

Use would when you are asking or requesting someone to do something.

  • Would you pass me that pen, please?
  • Would you like one more drink?
  • Which pen would you like?


Ought To

Ought to" is used to advise or make recommendations. "Ought to" also expresses assumption or expectation as well as strong probability, often with the idea that something is deserved. "Ought not" (without "to") is used to advise against doing something, although Americans prefer the less formal forms "should not" or "had better not."


  • You ought to stop smoking. (Recommendation)
  • Jim ought to get the promotion. (It is expected because he deserves it.)
  • This stock ought to increase in value. (Probability)
  • Mark ought not drink so much. advice against something (notice there is no "to")

Remember that "ought to" loses the "to" in the negative. Instead of "ought not to," we say "ought not." "Ought not" is more commonly used in British English. Americans prefer "should not."



"Shall" is used to indicate future action. It is most commonly used in sentences with "I" or "we," and is often found in suggestions, such as "Shall we go?" "Shall" is also frequently used in promises or voluntary actions. In formal English, the use of "shall" to describe future events often expresses inevitability or predestination. "Shall" is much more commonly heard in British English than in American English; Americans prefer to use other forms, although they do sometimes use "shall" in suggestions or formalized language.


  • Shall I help you? (suggestion)
  • I shall never forget where I came from. (promise)
  • He shall become our next king. (predestination)
  • I'm afraid Mr. Smith shall become our new director. (inevitability)


Modals Video Lecture




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  1. Meet Panwar

    Thanks for teaching


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