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Yellow Level

Lesson Ten:

Modal Verbs

Modal Verb
Picture
Example in a sentence

can:

possibility and ability

Click here for a

YouTube video

baby crawling

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

will:

future

Click here for a

YouTube video

beach

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

shall:

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!)

may:

possiblity and permission

walking dogs

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!)

could
  1. past tense of can--usually negative.
        
  2. possibility and ability
urban

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

would:

past tense of "will"

Click here for more examples of how to use the modal verb "would."

spider

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

should:

recommendation and good idea.

(Related to "shall" but much better and easier to use.)

rollerblading

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

might:

possibility

(use instead of "may" in some cases)

eggs falling

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!)

must:

necessary and important
business meeting

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

They should eat

NOW TAKE A QUIZ

Here are the answers for the quiz on video.

 

Next: Lesson Eleven


 

 

 

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Listen to the

the modal verb "can" in

The Listening Lab

girl listening

 

 

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