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Los verbos modales realizan una función similar a la de los verbos auxiliares.

Dan información adicional sobre


el verbo que los sigue y se utilizan para indicar posibilidad, probabilidad, certeza, deducción, capacidad,
consejo, obligación, prohibición, permiso, hacer peticiones, ofrecimientos, sugerencias, etc.

Son verbos modales: can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall,
should, will y would.

Los verbos modales tienen algunas características que los diferencian de los verbos normales:

1. Los modales van seguidos siempre de un verbo en infinitivo:

She must leave in a few minutes.


Things might have been so different.
People may be watching.
My sister can't drive yet.
You could be right.
You should study harder.
Would you finish this for me?

2. Los modales sólo tienen una forma. No añaden '-s' a la tercera persona del singular del presente y
no tienen formas acabadas en '- ing' o en '- ed'. Tampoco tienen infinitivo:

There's nothing I can do about it.


I'm sure he can do it.

3. Los verbos modales no necesitan el auxiliar DO para la forma negativa ni para las preguntas. Para la
forma negativa de un modal simplemente añadimos NOT o una palabra negativa inmediatamente
detrás del modal.

You must not worry.


I can never remember his name.
'Can + not' se escribe siembre como una palabra, 'cannot'.
I cannot go back. = I can't go back.

4. En inglés hablado o escrito informal 'not' se contrae en '-n't' y se añade al modal:

could not -> couldn't We couldn't leave the farm.


should not -> shouldn't You shouldn't talk like that.
must not -> mustn't You mustn't talk about Ron like that.
would not -> wouldn't I wouldn't do it if I were you.

5. Para hacer una pregunta, se pone el modal delante del sujeto.

Could you give me an example?

6. La mayoría de los verbos modales no se pueden utilizar en tiempos de pasado o futuro. Por ejemplo,
no podemos decir *She will can come with me. Tampoco es correcto *We musted study a lot.

Cuando nos referimos al pasado, utilizamos un modal seguido de 'have' y un participio pasado:

They may have seen the film - Puede que hayan visto la película

7. 'Could' se utiliza como pasado de 'can' para expresar habilidad. 'Would' se utiliza en estilo indirecto
como reporting verb de 'will' para expresar futuro.

When I was young, I could run for miles.


I will see my mother tomorrow
He said that he would see his mother the next day.
PRACTICE

A. Read the sentences and complete them 2. Excuse me. May I borrow your pen?
with the modal verbs. (can, must, may,
might, should) ______________________________________

3. Could you help me wash the dishes after


1. I .....can.......... prepare dinner tomorrow
dinner tonight?
night so bring some ice-cream.
______________________________________

2. I ............... write two essays for tomorrow 4. Would you like something to eat?
morning. ______________________________________

5. Would you like a ride home after school?


3. She ............... understand the lesson if she
pays attention. ______________________________________

4. Susan ............... drive slower to avoid C. Complete the conversation with can or
can’t.
accidents.
Sophie: 1 ___________ I go to the bathroom?
5. You ............... list your doubts in the paper. Mr. Hook: No, you 2_______________ .

Sophie: Sir, 3 _______________ I write with a


6. He ............... earn a lot of money this pencil?
month.
Mr. Hook: No Sophie. I’m afraid you
4______________ .
7. You ............... express yourself in English.

D. Ask for permission using the cues.


8. I ............... travel to London next week.
1. open the window

9. It ............... must be easy to find a new job. ______________________________________

2. use your cell phone


10. Peter ............... wash and repair his old
______________________________________
bike.
3. go to the restroom

11. If you touch the dog you ............... wash ______________________________________


your hands. 4. borrow this CD

______________________________________
12. They ............... watch the tv series on-line.
5. Watch TV

13. It wasn’t easy but I ............... pass the ______________________________________


exam.

E. Write complete sentences using


14. It ............... be hard working so many hours. should or shouldn’t.

1. eat / three / meals / day


15. It ............... be possible to meet you at the
You should eat three meals a day.
restaurant.
2. wash / hands / before / lunch

B. Write your own polite response after ______________________________________


each sentence. Short answers.
3. talk / food / in / mouth
1. I’m so sorry! Did I step on your foot?
______________________________________
No, you didn’t
4. brush / teeth / after / dinner
______________________________________ 1. Your friend is bored. It’s a sunny day. (go for a
walk) .
5. throw / bread
You should go for a walk
______________________________________
2. Your brother wants a new cell phone. He hasn’t
6. use / knife / eat / soup got much money. (find some work) .

______________________________________ ______________________________________

7. clear / table / after / eating 3. Your aunt smokes. She’s got a terrible cough
and cold. (not smoke)
______________________________________
______________________________________
8. leave / table / before / others
4. I need to do some exercise. (go to the gym) .
______________________________________
______________________________________

F. Underline the correct answer. 5. It’s my best friend’s birthday. I don’t know what to
give him. (buy a good CD) .
1. If the light is red you must / can’t stop.
______________________________________
2. You can / shouldn’t smoke if there is a no
smoking sign. 6. Your little sister is about to cross the road without
looking. (look before crossing) .
3. Do / Can I go out with my friends tonight?
______________________________________
4. You can’t / must watch TV because you’ve got
too much homework. 7. You don’t think your friend will like Japanese
sushi. (not eat sushi)
5. If he wants to lose weight, he can / shouldn’t
eat too much. ______________________________________

6. You must / can see the movie if you have


cleaned your room. H. Complete with can or can’t.

7. He shouldn’t / must leave the door open — it’s 1. ________ I go out with my friends tonight,
cold. please?

8. You must / can sleep at your friend’s house if 2. You _________ watch TV because you’ve got
you want. too much homework.

3. You __________ see the movie if you have


cleaned your room.
G. Give advice in these situations. Use should
or shouldn’t. 4. _________ you help me with this?