Category: General English & Academic English
Modal auxiliary verbs are used to show the speaker’s attitude. For instance, the speaker may feel something is permissible, possible, probable, advisable and necessary. In addition, they can also show how strong an attitude can be.
Modal auxiliaries in English
Can may had better ought to should
Could might must shall will would
Some tips for modal verbs:
– Even if the subject is singular—he, she, it—modal verbs never take (s)
INCORRENT: He wills see you.
CORRECT: He will see you.
– Modal auxiliary verbs are directly followed by simple form of the verb.
CORRECT: He can play the piano.
He can to play the
piano. He can played the piano.
Note: There is only one exception with ought which is followed by to + the simple form of a verb.
CORRECT: He ought to park his car in the parking lot.
Phrasal modals are common expressions that have the same meaning as modals themselves. For instance, be able to which is a phrasal modal is similar to can and be going to is similar to will.
be able to be going to be supposed to
have to have got to
Using modals to express necessity: Must, have to have got to
Both have to and must express necessity.
Ex: All students have to take the final exam to pass the course.
Ex: All students must take the final exam to pass the course.
There is no other choice for students. The exam is required.
- Have to is more common than must in everyday speech and writing.
- Must is much stronger than have to and it shows an urgent situation.
- For legal information, writing instructions and offering rules, must is preferred.
Ex: Cell phones must be turned off during exam. (This is very important and must be followed as a rule)
- Mostly, adults use “must” when they talk to children about rules.
Ex: You must wash your hands before eating something.
- Have to is commonly used in question rather than must.
Ex: Do you have to stay home on Fridays?
Have got to:
It is informal and mostly it is used in spoken English.
Ex: I have got to study now. I have a difficult exam tomorrow.
Note. The usual pronunciation of got to is “gotta”. Possibly sometimes have is not used in spoken form “I gotta study.”