Modal Verbs - Introduction to Using Modal Verbs in English

source: Oxford Online English      2017年8月23日
In this lesson, you can learn about modal verbs, what they are, why you need them and how they work. Modal verbs, like 'can', 'must' or 'should' are very common in English.
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The questions we will discuss in this lesson:
1) What are modal verbs?
2) How are modal verbs different to 'normal' verbs?
3) Why are modal verbs important?
4) What makes modal verbs complicated?

Modal verbs are verbs which are used to add meaning to another verb. They follow different grammar rules to regular verbs, and can often be used in many different ways.

The basic modal verbs in English are: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should and must.

There are other verbs which behave like modal verbs, although they do not have all the features of 'full' modal verbs. Examples include: ought to, need and have to.

Modal verbs are different from 'normal' verbs in several ways. First of all, modal verbs can only be used together with another verb in the infinitive form, without 'to'. Secondly, modal verbs don't have tenses like other verbs do: they don't have past, perfect, future forms etc.

Modal verbs are used to express many, many different meanings, such as:
- Giving advice: "I think you should take the job."
- Talking about possibility: "We could do it by Friday, if you wanted."
- Asking permission: "May I take this seat?"
- Expressing certainty: "You can't have seen him—he's on holiday in Germany!"

And many, many more… All of the meanings which we use modal verbs to express are very, very common in all forms of English. You could hardly say or write anything in English without using modal verbs.

Although modal verbs can appear very simple, they're actually incredibly complicated, and it will take you time and work to understand them fully. However, if you can use modal verbs well, this will give you much more control over your English, so it's worth spending more time to learn about the details of modal verbs.

# click this line for more grammar videos on modal auxiliaries (modals)