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Modal Verb Tutorial


Modals are special verbs which behave very irregularly in English. Englishpage.com has created one of the
most in-depth modal tutorials in print or online. Study the modal explanations and complete the associated
exercises and take another step toward English fluency. If you want to use the Modal Verb Tutorial as a
reference only and do not want to complete the tutorial Click Here .

The tutorial should be completed as follows:


1. Read this introduction page including the section below titled "What are Modal Verbs?"
2. Complete the exercises below. After each exercise, we have listed the modals covered. Just click on the
modal link to learn more about its use.

EXERCISES

TOPICS COVERED

Modal Exercise 1 Can , Could , Have to , Must , Might and Should


Modal Exercise 2 Have to and Must
Modal Exercise 3 Might , Must and Should . Afterwards, you can repeat the exercise
using Could , Have toand Ought to
Modal Exercise 4 Couldn't and Might not
Modal Exercise 5 Have got to , Had Better , May and Shall
Modal Exercise 6 Could , Might , Should and Would
Modal Exercise 7 Modal Verbs Forms
Modal Final Test Cumulative Modal Test

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.

Can
"Can" is one of the most commonly used modal verbs in English. It can be used to express ability or
opportunity, to request or offer permission, and to show possibility or impossibility.

Examples:

2
I can ride a horse. ABILITY
We can stay with my brother when we are in Paris. OPPORTUNITY
She cannot stay out after 10 PM. PERMISSION
Can you hand me the stapler? REQUEST
Any child can grow up to be president. POSSIBILITY

Using "Can" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how "can"
behaves in different contexts.

Modal Use

can
GENERAL ABILITY

can
ABILITY DURING A
SPECIFIC EVENT

can
OPPORTUNITY

Positive Forms
1. = Present 2. =
Past 3. = Future
1. I can speak
Chinese.

Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. =
Past 3. = Future
1. I can't speak
Swahili.

2. SHIFT TO
"COULD"
I could speak Chinese
when I was a kid.

2. SHIFT TO
"COULD"
I couldn't speak
Swahili.

3. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
I will be able to speak
Chinese by the time I
finish my course.

3. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
I won't be able to
speak Swahili.

You can also use:

be able to

1. With a burst of
1. Even with a burst of be able to
adrenaline, people can adrenaline, people
pick up cars.
can't pick up
something that heavy.
2. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
With a sudden burst of
adrenaline, he was
able to lift the car off
the child's leg.

2. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
Even the weight lifter,
couldn't lift the car off
the child's leg.

3. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
With a sudden burst of
adrenaline, he will be
able to lift the car.

3. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
Even three men
working together won't
be able to lift the car.

1. I have some free


time. I can help her
now.

1. I don't have any


time. I can't help her
now.

2. SHIFT TO "BE
2. SHIFT TO "BE
ABLE TO"
ABLE TO"
I had some free time I didn't have time
yesterday. I was able yesterday. I wasn't
to help her at that time. able to help her at that
3. I'll have some free time.
time tomorrow. I can
help her then.

3. I won't have any


time later. I can't help

be able to

3
her then.
can
PERMISSION

1. I can drive Susan's 1. I can't drive Susan's may


car when she is out of car when she is out of
town.
town.
2. SHIFT TO "BE
ALLOWED TO "
I was allowed to drive
Susan's car while she
was out of town last
week.

2. SHIFT TO "BE
ALLOWED TO "
I wasn't allowed to
drive Susan's car while
she was out of town
last week.

3. I can drive Susan's 3. I can't drive Susan's


car while she is out of car while she is out of
town next week.
town next week.
can
REQUEST

Can I have a glass of Can't I have a glass of could, may


water?
water?
Can you give me a lift Can't you give me a lift
to school?
to school?
REQUESTS USUALLY REFER REQUESTS USUALLY REFER
TO THE NEAR FUTURE.
TO THE NEAR FUTURE.

can
POSSIBILITY,
IMPOSSIBILITY

Anyone can become It can't cost more than could


rich and famous if they a dollar or two.
know the right people. You can't be 45! I
Learning a language
can be a real
challenge.

thought you were


about 18 years old.

THIS USE IS USUALLY A

GENERALIZATION OR A
SUPPOSITION.

GENERALIZATION OR A
SUPPOSITION.

THIS USE IS USUALLY A

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Could
"Could" is used to express possibility or past ability as well as to make suggestions and requests. "Could" is
also commonly used in conditional sentences as the conditional form of "can."

Examples:
Extreme rain could cause the river to flood the city. POSSIBILITY
Nancy could ski like a pro by the age of 11.

PAST ABILITY

You could see a movie or go out to dinner. SUGGESTION


Could I use your computer to email my boss?

REQUEST

We could go on the trip if I didn't have to work this weekend.

CONDITIONAL

Using "Could" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how
"could" behaves in different contexts.

4
Modal Use

could
POSSIBILITY

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. 1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =
= Future
Future
1. John could be the one 1. Mary couldn't be the one
who stole the money.
who stole the money.
2. John could have been
the one who stole the
money.

2. Mary couldn't have been


the one who stole the money.

1. If I had more time, I


could travel around the
world.

1. Even if I had more time, I


couldn't travel around the
world.

You can
also use:
might,
may

3. Mary couldn't possibly go


3. John could go to jail for to jail for the crime.
stealing the money.
could
CONDITIONAL
OF CAN

2. If I had had more time, I 2. Even if I had had more


could have traveled around time, I couldn't have traveled
the world.
around the world.
3. If I had more time this
winter, I could travel
around the world.

3. Even if I had more time this


winter, I couldn't travel around
the world.

could

1. NO PRESENT FORM

NO NEGATIVE FORMS

SUGGESTION

2. You could have spent


your vacation in Hawaii.
3. You could spend your
vacation in Hawaii.

could
PAST ABILITY

I could run ten miles in my I couldn't run more than a


twenties.
mile in my twenties.
I could speak Chinese
when I was a kid.

be able to

I couldn't speak Swahili.


"COULD" CAN BE USED IN NEGATIVE

"COULD" CANNOT BE USED IN

SENTENCES IN WHICH YOU


POSITIVE SENTENCES IN WHICH DESCRIBE A MOMENTARY OR ONEYOU DESCRIBE A MOMENTARY OR TIME ABILITY.
ONE-TIME ABILITY.

Yesterday, I could lift the


couch by myself. Not
Correct
could

Yesterday, I couldn't lift the


couch by myself.Correct

Could I have something to Couldn't he come with us?

POLITE REQUEST drink?

Could I borrow your


stapler?
REQUESTS USUALLY REFER TO
THE NEAR FUTURE.

can,
Couldn't you help me with this may,
might
for just a second?
REQUESTS USUALLY REFER TO THE
NEAR FUTURE.

REMEMBER: "Could not" vs. "Might not"


"Could not" suggests that it is impossible for something to happen. "Might not" suggests you do not know if
something happens.

Examples:
Jack might not have the key. MAYBE HE DOES NOT HAVE THE KEY.

Jack could not have the key. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT HE HAS THE KEY
EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS
Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 4 couldn't and might not
Modal Exercise 6 could, might, should and would
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Had Better
"Had better" is most commonly used to make recommendations. It can also be used to express
desperate hope as well as warn people.
Examples:
You had better take your umbrella with you today. RECOMMENDATION
That bus had better get here soon! DESPERATE HOPE
You had better watch the way you talk to me in the future! WARNING

Using "Had Better" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn
how "had better" behaves in different contexts.
Use

had better
RECOMMENDATION

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 1. = Present 2. = Past
3. = Future
3. = Future
1. SHIFT TO "SHOULD" 1. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
OR "OUGHT TO"
OR "OUGHT TO"
People should unplug
People shouldn't clean
toasters before they clean toasters without
them.
unplugging them first.
2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD
HAVE" OR "OUGHT TO
HAVE"
You should have
unplugged the toaster
before you tried to clean
it.

You can
also use:
should,
ought to

2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD
HAVE" OR "OUGHT TO
HAVE"
You shouldn't have
cleaned the toaster
without unplugging it first.

3. You had better not


3. You had better unplug clean the toaster until you
the toaster before you try unplug it.
to clean it.
had better
DESPERATE HOPE,
WARNING

The movie had better end They had better not be


soon.
late.
They had better be here They had better not
before we start dinner.
forget Tom's birthday gift.
DESPERATE HOPES AND

DESPERATE HOPES AND


WARNINGS USUALLY REFER TO WARNINGS USUALLY REFER TO
THE NEAR FUTURE.
THE NEAR FUTURE.

"Had better" is often simply pronounced as "better" in spoken English.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Have To
"Have to" is used to express certainty, necessity, and obligation.
Examples:
This answer has to be correct. CERTAINTY
The soup has to be stirred continuously to prevent burning.

NECESSITY

They have to leave early. OBLIGATION

Using "Have to" in Present, Past, and Future


"Have to" behaves quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn how
"have to" behaves in different contexts.
Use

have to
CERTAINTY

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = 1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =
Future
Future
1. That has to be Jerry. They 1. SHIFT TO "MUST"
said he was tall with bright That must not be Jerry. They
red hair.
said he has blond hair, not red
2. That has to have been the hair.

You can
also use:
must,
have got
to

right restaurant. There were 2. SHIFT TO "MUST"


no other restaurants on the That must not have been the
street.
right restaurant. I guess there
was another one around there
3. NONE
somewhere.
3. NONE
have to
NECESSITY

1. She has to read four


books for this literature
class.

1. She doesn't have to read


must
"Grapes of Wrath." It's optional
reading for extra credit.

2. She had to finish the first 2. She didn't have to write a


book before the midterm.
critique of "The Scarlet Letter."
3. She will have to finish the She had to give a presentation
other books before the final to her class.
exam.

3. She won't have to take any


other literature classes.
American Literature 101 is the
only required course.

REMEMBER: "Do not have to" vs. "Must not"


"Do not have to" suggests that someone is not required to do something. "Must not" suggests that
you are prohibited from doing something.
Examples:
You must not eat that. IT IS FORBIDDEN, IT IS NOT ALLOWED.

You don't have to eat that. YOU CAN IF YOU WANT TO, BUT IT IS NOT NECESSARY.
EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS
Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 2 have to and must
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Have Got To
"Have got to" is used to express necessity and obligation.
Examples:
Drivers have got to get a license to drive a car in the US. NECESSITY
I have got to be at work by 8:30 AM. OBLIGATION

Using "Have Got to" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn
how "have got to" behaves in different contexts.
Use

have got to
NECESSITY

Positive Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past
3. = Future
1. People have got to be
on time if they want to get
a seat in the crowded
theater.

Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =
Future
1. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
People don't have to be there
on time to get a seat.

You can
also use:
have to,
must

2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"


2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO" You didn't have to be there on
You had to be on time if time to get a seat.
you wanted to get a seat 3. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
in the crowded theater.
You won't have to be there on
3. You have got to be
time to get a seat.
there on time tonight if
you want to get a seat in
the crowded theater.
haven't got
to

Haven't you got to be there by


7:00?

FUTURE
OBLIGATION

Haven't you got to finish that


project today?
"HAVEN'T GOT TO" IS PRIMARILY USED
TO ASK ABOUT FUTURE OBLIGATIONS.
IT CAN BE USED IN STATEMENTS, BUT
THIS IS LESS COMMON.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Don't you
have to

May
"May" is most commonly used to express possibility. It can also be used to give or request
permission, although this usage is becoming less common.
Examples:
Cheryl may be at home, or perhaps at work.

POSSIBILITY

Johnny, you may leave the table when you have finished your dinner. GIVE
PERMISSION

May I use your bathroom? REQUEST PERMISSION

Using "May" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn
how "may" behaves in different contexts.
Modal Use

may
POSSIBILITY

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
You can
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = 1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = also use:
Future
Future
1. Jack may be upset. I can't 1. Jack may not be upset.
might
really tell if he is annoyed or Perhaps he is tired.
tired.
2. Jack may not have been
2. Jack may have been
upset. Perhaps he was tired.
upset. I couldn't really tell if 3. Jack may not get upset,
he was annoyed or tired.
even if you tell him the truth
3. Jack may get upset if you
don't tell him the truth.

may

1. You may leave the table 1. You may not leave the
can
that you're finished with table. You're not finished with
your dinner.
your dinner yet.

GIVE PERMISSION now

2. SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED 2. SHIFT TO "BE ALLOWED


TO"
TO"
You were allowed to leave You were not allowed to leave
the table after you finished the table because you hadn't
your dinner.
finished your dinner.
3. You may leave the table 3. You may not leave the
when you finish your dinner. table until you are finished
with your dinner.
may

May I borrow your eraser?

REQUEST
PERMISSION

May I make a phone call?

NO NEGATIVE FORMS

REQUESTS USUALLY REFER TO


THE NEAR FUTURE.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

can,
might

Might
"Might" is most commonly used to express possibility. It is also often used in conditionalsentences. English
speakers can also use "might" to make suggestions or requests, although this is less common in American
English.

Examples:
Your purse might be in the living room. POSSIBILITY
If I didn't have to work, I might go with you. CONDITIONAL
You might visit the botanical gardens during your visit.

SUGGESTION

Might I borrow your pen? REQUEST

Using "Might" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to learn
how "might" behaves in different contexts.
Modal Use

might
POSSIBILITY

Positive Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. =
Future
1. She might be on the bus. I
think her car is having
problems.

Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past
3. = Future
1. She might not be on
the bus. She might be
walking home.

You can
also use:
could,
may

2. She might have taken the 2. She might not have


bus. I'm not sure how she got taken the bus. She might
to work.
have walked home.
3. She might take the bus to 3. She might not take the
get home. I don't think Bill will bus. She might get a ride
be able to give her a ride.
from Bill.
might
CONDITIONAL OF
MAY

1. If I entered the contest, I


might actually win.

1. Even if I entered the


contest, I might not win.

2. If I had entered the contest,2. Even if I had entered


I might actually have won.
the contest, I might not
have won.
3. If I entered the contest
tomorrow, I might actually
win. Unfortunately, I can't
enter it.

3. Even if I entered the


contest tomorrow, I might
not win.

might

1. NO PRESENT FORM

1. NO PRESENT FORM could

SUGGESTION

2. You might have tried the


cheese cake.

2. PAST FORM
UNCOMMON

3. You might try the


cheesecake.

3. You might not want to


eat the cheese cake. It's
very calorific.

Might I have something to


drink?

NEGATIVE FORMS
UNCOMMON

might
REQUEST

(British form) Might I borrow the stapler?


REQUESTS USUALLY REFER TO THE
NEAR FUTURE.

could,
may,
can

10
REMEMBER: "Might not" vs. "Could not"
"Might not" suggests you do not know if something happens. "Could not" suggests that it is
impossible for something to happen.
Examples:
Jack might not have the key. MAYBE HE DOES NOT HAVE THE KEY.

Jack could not have the key. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT HE HAS THE KEY.
EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS
Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 4 couldn't and might not
Modal Exercise 6 could, might, should and would
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review
MUST
"Must" is most commonly used to express certainty. It can also be used to express necessity or strong
recommendation, although native speakers prefer the more flexible form "have to." "Must not" can be used to
prohibit actions, but this sounds very severe; speakers prefer to use softer modal verbs such as "should not" or
"ought not" to dissuade rather than prohibit.

Examples:
This must be the right address! CERTAINTY
Students must pass an entrance examination to study at this school.

NECESSITY

You must take some medicine for that cough. STRONG RECOMMENDATION
Jenny, you must not play in the street! PROHIBITION

Using "Must" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart below to
learn how "must" behaves in different contexts.
Modal Use

must
CERTAINTY

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
You can
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = 1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = also use:
Future
Future
1. That must be Jerry. They 1. That must not be Jerry. He have to
said he was tall with bright is supposed to have red hair.
red hair.
2. That must not have been
2. That must have been the
right restaurant. There are
no other restaurants on this
street.

the right restaurant. I guess


there is another one around
here somewhere.
3. NO FUTURE FORM

3. NO FUTURE FORM
must not
PROHIBITION

You must not swim in that


river. It's full of crocodiles.
You must not forget to take
your malaria medication
while your are in the tropics.

11
PROHIBITION USUALLY REFER TO
THE NEAR FUTURE.

must
STRONG
RECOMMENDATION

(Americans
prefer
the form
"should.")

must
NECESSITY

(Americans
prefer
the form
"have to.")

1. You must take some time 1. You mustn't drink so much. should
off and get some rest.
It's not good for your health.
2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
You should have taken
some time off last week to
get some rest.

2. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
You shouldn't have drunk so
much. That caused the
accident.

3. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
You should take some time
off next week to get some
rest.

3. SHIFT TO "SHOULD"
You shouldn't drink at the
party. You are going to be the
designated driver.

1. You must have a permit 1. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"


have to
to enter the national park. We don't have to get a permit
2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO" to enter the national park.
We had to have a permit to 2. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"
enter the park.
We didn't have to get a permit
3. We must get a permit to to enter the national park.
enter the park next week.

3. SHIFT TO "HAVE TO"


We won't have to get a permit
to enter the national park.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 2 have to and must
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test Complete review
REMEMBER: "Must not" vs. "Do not have to"
"Must not" suggests that you are prohibited from doing something. "Do not have to" suggests that someone is
not required to do something.
Examples:
You must not eat that. IT IS FORBIDDEN, IT IS NOT ALLOWED.
You don't have to eat that. YOU CAN IF YOU WANT TO, BUT IT IS NOT NECESSARY.

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."

Examples:
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

12
Mark ought not drink so much. ADVICE AGAINST SOMETHING (NOTICE THERE IS NO "TO")

Using "Ought to" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart
below to learn how "ought to" behaves in different contexts.
Modal Use

ought to
RECOMMENDATION,
ADVICE

Positive Forms
1. = Present 2. =
Past 3. = Future
1. Margaret ought to
exercise more.

Negative Forms
You can
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = also use:
Future
1. Margaret ought not
should
exercise too much. It might
cause injury.

2. Margaret ought to
have exercised more 2. Margaret ought not have
so she would be better run the marathon. She
prepared for the
wasn't in good shape.
marathon.
3. Margaret ought not stay at
3. Margaret ought to home in front of the TV. She
come to the fitness
should go to the fitness
center with us tonight. center with us.

ought to
ASSUMPTION,
EXPECTATION,
PROBABILITY

1. She ought to have "OUGHT NOT" IS USED PRIMARILY should


the package by now. TO EXPRESS NEGATIVE
2. She ought to have
received the package
yesterday.

RECOMMENDATIONS.

(SEE ABOVE.)

3. She ought to
receive the package
tonight.
Notice "Ought not"
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."
Examples:
You ought not smoke so much.
She ought not take such risks while skiing.

They ought not carry so much cash while traveling.


EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Shall
"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.

Examples:
Shall I help you? SUGGESTION

13
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

More Examples of "Shall"


Modal Use

Positive Forms

Negative Forms

shall

I shall be replaced by
someone from the New York
office.

I shall not be replaced


after all.

FUTURE ACTION

(British form)

I shall be there by 8:00.

You can
also use:
will

I shall not be there. I have


a previous obligation.

Shall

Shall we begin dinner?

SUGGESTIONS

Shall we move into the living


room?

shall

I shall take care of everything I shall never forget you.


for you.
I shall never give up the
I shall make the travel
fight for freedom.
arrangements. There's no
need to worry.

VOLUNTEERING,
PROMISING

(British form)
shall
INEVITABILITY

(British form)

should

will

Man shall explore the distant Man shall never give up


regions of the universe.
the exploration of the
universe.
We shall overcome
oppression.

He shall not be held


back.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Should
"Should" is most commonly used to make recommendations or give advice. It can also
be used to express obligation as well as expectation.
Examples:
When you go to Berlin, you should visit the palaces in Potsdam. RECOMMENDATION
You should focus more on your family and less on work.

ADVICE

I really should be in the office by 7:00 AM. OBLIGATION


By now, they should already be in Dubai. EXPECTATION

Using "Should" in Present, Past, and Future


Most modal verbs behave quite irregularly in the past and the future. Study the chart
below to learn how "should" behaves in different contexts.
Modal Use

Positive Forms
Negative Forms
1. = Present 2. = Past 3. = 1. = Present 2. =
Future
Past 3. = Future

You can
also use:

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should
RECOMMENDATION,
ADVISABILITY

1. People with high


cholesterol should eat lowfat foods.

1. Sarah shouldn't ought to


smoke so much. It's
not good for her
2. Frank should have eaten health.
low-fat foods. That might
2. Sarah shouldn't
have prevented his heart
have smoked so
attack.
much. That's what
caused her health
3. You really should start
problems.
eating better.
3. Sarah shouldn't
smoke when she
visits Martha next
week. Martha hates
when people smoke
in her house.

should
OBLIGATION

I should be at work before


9:00.

NO NEGATIVE
FORMS

be
supposed to

We should return the video


before the video rental store
closes.
"SHOULD" CAN ALSO EXPRESS
SOMETHING BETWEEN
RECOMMENDATION AND
OBLIGATION. "BE SUPPOSED TO"
EXPRESSES A SIMILAR IDEA AND
CAN EASILY BE USED IN THE PAST
OR IN NEGATIVE FORMS.

should
EXPECTATION

1. Susan should be in New


York by now.

1. Susan shouldn't ought to,


be in New York yet. be
2. Susan shouldn't supposed to

2. Susan should have


arrived in New York last
have arrived in New
week. Let's call her and see York until yesterday.
what she is up to.
3. Susan shouldn't
3. Susan should be in New arrive in New York
York by next week. Her new until next week.
job starts on Monday.

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 6 could, might, should and would
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

Will
"Will" is used with promises or voluntary actions that take place in the future. "Will" can also be used
to make predictions about the future. For more information on using "will" and associated exercises,
visit the Simple Future section of our Verb Tense Tutorial.
Examples:

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I promise that I will write you every single day. PROMISE
I will make dinner tonight. VOLUNTARY ACTION
He thinks it will rain tomorrow. PREDICTION

More Examples of "Will"


Modal Use

Positive Forms

will

The marketing director will be


replaced by someone from the
New York office.

FUTURE ACTION,
PREDICTION

Negative Forms

Fred will be there by 8:00.

will
VOLUNTEERING,
PROMISING

You can
also use:
The marketing director shall
will not be replaced
after all.
Fred will not be there.
He has a previous
obligation.

I will take care of everything for I will never forget you. shall
you.
I will never give up the
I will make the travel
fight for freedom.
arrangements. There's no need
to worry.

Modal Forms
Modal verbs can be used in a variety of different forms. Study the examples below.

Modal Simple
I could swim at the beach.

Passive Modal Simple


The room should be cleaned once a day.

Modal Continuous
Passive Modal Continuous
I could be swimming at the beach right The room should be being cleaned now.
now.
Passive Modal Perfect
Modal Perfect
The room should have been cleaned
I could have swum at the beach
yesterday.
yesterday.
Passive Modal Perfect Continuous
Modal Perfect Continuous
I could have been swimming at the
beach instead of working in the office.

The room should have been being


cleaned but nobody was there. (Rare
form)

EXERCISES AND RELATED TOPICS


Modal Exercise 1 can, could, have to, must, might and should
Modal Exercise 2 have to and must
Modal Exercise 3 might, must, should, could, have to and ought to
Modal Exercise 4 couldn't and might not
Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 5 have got to, had better, may and shall
Modal Exercise 6 could, might, should and would
Modal Exercise 7 modal verb forms
Modal Verb Final Test complete review

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