Modal Verbs in English | List, Functions and Examples

Learn useful list of Modal Verbs and how to use Modal Verbs in English with examples.

The modal verbs of English are a small class of auxiliary verbs used to express possibility, obligation, …

The modals and modal phrases (semi-modals) in English are:

  • Will
  • Shall
  • Would
  • Should
  • Ought to
  • Must
  • Mustn’t
  • May
  • Might
  • Can
  • Could
  • Have to/ Has to
  • Don’t/ Doesn’t have to

Modal Verbs List

Will

The verb “will” is used to express:

Promise

Example:

Don’t worry, I will be here.

Instant decision

Example:

I will take these books with me.

Invitation/Offer

Example:

Will you give me a chance?

Certain prediction

Example:

John Smith will be the next President.

Future tense auxiliary

Example:

Tomorrow I will be in New York.

Shall

The verb “shall” is used to express:

Asking what to do

Example:

Shall I get the phone? Or will you?

Offer

Example:

Shall I call a cab?

Suggestion

Example:

Shall I call again on Thursday?

Would

The verb “would” is used to express:

Asking for permission

Example:

Would you mind if I opened the window?

Request

Example:

Would you make dinner?

Making arrangements

Would you be available at 6 pm tonight?

Invitation

Example:

Would you like to go out sometimes?

Preferences

Example:

Would you prefer the window seat or the aisle?

Should

The verb “should” is used to express:

Advice

Example:

You should visit your dentist at least twice a year.

Recommending action

Example:

You really should go to the new museum on Main Street.

Uncertain prediction

Example:

I posted the cheque yesterday so it should arrive this week.

Logical deduction

Example:

I’ve revised so I should be ready for the test.

Ought to

The verb “ought to” is used to express:

Advice

Example:

You ought to have come to the meeting. It was interesting.

Logical deduction

Example:

30$ ought to be enough for the taxi.

Must

The verb “must” is used to express:

Obligation/ Necessity

Example:

I must memorize all of these rules about tenses.

Deduction

Example:

She lied to the police. She must be the murderer.

Mustn’t

The verb “musn’t” (must not) is used to express:

Prohibition

Example:

You mustn’t smoke in this restaurant. It’s forbidden

May

The verb “may” is used to express:

Possibility

Example:

Richard may be coming to see us tomorrow.

Ask for permission

Example:

May I borrow your dictionary?

Might

The verb “might” is used to express:

Slight possibility

Example:

It looks nice, but it might be very expensive.

Past form of “may” in reported speech

Example:

The President said he might come.

Can

The verb “can” is used to express:

Ability

Example:

David can speak three languages.

Permission (informal)

Example:

Can I sit in that chair please?

Offers

Example:

Can I carry the luggage for you?

Could

The verb “could” is used to express:

Request

Example:

Could I borrow your dictionary?

Suggestion

Example:

Could you say it again more slowly?

Ability in the past

Example:

I think we could have another Gulf War.

Asking for permission

Example:

Could I open the window?

Have to/ Has to

The verb “have to/has to” is used to express:

External Obligation

Example:

You have to take off your shoes before you get into the mosque.

Don’t/ Doesn’t have to

“Don’t/Doesn’t have to” is used to express:

Is not necessary

Example:

You don’t have to do all the exercises, only the first one.

Modal Verbs | Picture

Modal Verbs | Video

6 responses on "Modal Verbs in English | List, Functions and Examples"

  1. Thanks a lot for thèse lessons, it’s very important for me because i want tout speak english fluently. I’m an Haitian.
    Could i have a lessons Every Day please?

  2. Hello I’m fanta from Mali I really enjoy this lesson it easy the way it was explain once again thanks

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