english lessons

Modal Verbs

Modals are special verbs, such as can or must, which behave very irregularly in English. 's in-depth modal tutorial will help you learn what makes modal verbs special. Study the modal descriptions and complete the exercises to take another step towards English fluency.

How to use this tutorial:

1. Read the introduction titled What are Modal Verbs?

2. Complete the exercises below. Each exercise has links to the modals covered. And don't miss our Modal Final Test.

Modal Verb Exercises

What are Modal Verbs?

Modal verbs are special verbs which behave very differently from normal verbs. Here are some important differences:

1. Modal verbs do not take "-s" in the third person.

Examples:

  • He can  speak Chinese.
  • She should  be here by 9:00.

2. You use "not" to make modal verbs negative, even in simple present and simple past.

Examples:

  • He should not be late.
  • They might not come to the party.

3. Many modal verbs cannot be used in the past tenses or the future tenses.

Examples:

  • He will can go with us. Not Correct
  • She musted study very hard. Not Correct

Common Modal Verbs

Can
Could
May
Might
Must
Ought to
Shall
Should
Will
Would

For the purposes of this tutorial, we have included some expressions which are not modal verbs including had better, have to, and have got to. These expressions are closely related to modals in meaning and are often interchanged with them.

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