Verbs are the essential component of any sentence in English. Without them, we cannot frame a perfect English sentence. Verbs are words that are used to describe an action concerning the time where that action takes place. In English, there are various ways available to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings. People may use different verbs to describe what they want, one such kind of verb is “The Modal verb”. Let’s begin our journey of understanding model verbs in a simple and effective way.

What are Modal Verbs

Firstly, there are many verbs that are considered as Modals counting on their usage in a sentence. In addition to that, there are different kinds of verbs in English such as regular and irregular verbs, transitive and intransitive verbs, helping or auxiliary verbs. Out of which the auxiliary verb is divided into a few types, one among them is a “Modal verb”. The modal verbs are also known as modal auxiliary verbs, as their function is to help the other verbs express their mood or voice, Modals being a part of an auxiliary verb also helps the main verb in a way making it easier to understand.

They are different from other verbs in English and function in an irregular way. They assist and add more information about the main verb. The primary function of modal auxiliary verbs in English is to help the main verb to indicate its certainty, possibility, ability, obligation, etc. Most importantly in order to speak English effectively, one should make use of modal verbs.

Properties of modals in english

A verb should own certain properties in order to consider it as a modal verb. Below are the primary properties of modals in English grammar.

Use of Modal verbs

Below are the major usages of the nine most common modals in English with their positive and negative form.

Usage of Can

Can, as a modal verb is used to express capacity/ability, possibility, permission. Additionally, it is also used to make a request, and offer. In its negative form “can” be used to express impossibility.

Examples using “can”

Used to express someone’s “Ability” to do something

Used to express “General possibility”

Used to make a “Request” both in a formal and informal way, when someone is unable to do something

Used to ask/give “Permission”

Used to express one’s ability to “Offer” help or do something to someone

Used in negative form when someone is not sure about something

Usage of Could

Could, as a modal verb is used to talk about an ability in the past. Most importantly Could is the past form of “Can” and it is used express both past and present situations. Could is used to ask questions even more politely than “Can”. In the same vein could is used to show request, possibility, permission etc.

Examples using “Could”

Used to indicate “Past Ability”

Used to express “Possibility”

Used to show “Request”

Used to express “Permission”

Usage of “May”

“May” is the most polite of among all modals in English. Additionally May can be used to denote Permission, Possibility, Wish and Probability.

Used to express “Permission”

Used to denote “Possibility”

Used to show “Wish”

Used to express “Probability”

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