Modals in English Grammar

Modals in English Grammar

Modals - The helping verbs which express the mode of main verb are called Modals. The main Modals are - may, might, can, could, will, shall, would, should, must, need, ought to, used to.

Features of Modals - The main features of Modals are given below:

a) They indicate an action like ability, power, permission, request, possibility and willingness.
b) They don’t come alone. They come with main verb.
c) The number, gender and persons don’t affect them.
d) They are used with 1st form of verb. But “to infinitive” is used with the modals like “ought” and “used”.
e) They don’t have any forms.

Modals in English Grammar
Modals in English Grammar


  1. May I come in, Sir?
  2. May I help u?
  3. May I ask a question?
  4. You may buy something if u want.

  1. It is cloudy day. It may rain today.
  2. He may come today.
  3. If you work hard then you may get good marks.

  1. May God bless you!
  2. May his soul rest in peace!
  3. May you live long!

Might ( Past of "May")

Purpose in Past

  1. He worked hard so that he might stand first.
  2. He ran fast so that he might catch the thief.
  3. He earned a lot of money so that he might live a better life.

  1. It might rain today.
  2. I might win the lottery.
  3. He might win the scholarship.



  1. I can speak English.
  2. She cannot cook.
  3. I cannot understand your language.

  1. Can you solve this question? (Informal manner)
  2. You cannot go.
  3. You cannot see me.
  4. They can live in my house.

  1. It can rain today.
  2. You can solve this sum.
  3. Anyone can slip on this floor.

Could ( Past of "Can")

Polite request

  1. Could you please open the window?
  2. Could I have some water, please?
  3. Could I give you a lift?
  4. Could you fetch me that book?
  5. Could you turn the music down?
Ability in the past

  1. When I was younger, I could run a mile.
  2. Last year, he could not speak English.
  3. Yesterday, I could not find my wallet.

  1. He said that he could play a violin.
  2. He said that he could sing a song.
  3. He said that he could solve this problem.


Used with Second and Third Person

  1. He will get good marks.
  2. The boys will play a match in the evening.
  3. Will you deliver a speech tomorrow?
Threat, Promise & Determination

  1. I will see you in the court.
  2. I will teach you a lesson.
  3. I will work hard to stand first in the class.
  4. We will sacrifice our lives for the sake of country.


Used with First Person

  1. I shall meet you next month.
  2. We shall fly the kites.
  3. I shall help you.
Threat, Promise & Determination

  1. You shall get a mobile if you stand first.
  2. You shall be punished for your mistake.
  3. He shall succeed if he works hard.



  1. You should not speak while eating.
  2. You should walk on the grass in the morning.
  3. You should go home now.
  4. Should I leave now?

  1. Work hard lest you should fail.
  2. Speak slowly lest you should falter.
  3. Run slow lest you should fall down


Compulsion, Strong obligation

  1. You must apologize for your mistake.
  2. Your mother is not well, you must take care of her.
  3. A teacher must teach the students about etiquettes.
  4. You must work hard.


Polite request/ offer/wish

  1. Would you like a cup of tea?
  2. Would you like to play Cricket?
  3. What would you like to have in breakfast?
  4. I would like to say something.
Past habit

  1. When I was little, I would play hide and seek.
  2. In my childhood, I would drink milk.
  3. When I was child, I would not tell a lie.
Unreal condition

  1. We would go to Japan but we are too busy.
  2. If I won the lottery, I would travel the world.
  3. Would that I were millionaire.

  1. He said that he would bring me a smart phone.
  2. He said that he would invite me on birthday party.
  3. He said that he would speak the truth from now.

Ought to

Moral duty, Necessity

  1. You ought to respect your seniors.
  2. We ought to serve our country.
  3. You ought to cast your vote.
  4. You ought to be punctual.
  5. We ought to help the poor.
  6. You ought to visit your friends once in a while.



  1. You need not stay here.
  2. Need she go there?
  3. Do we need to consult a doctor?
  4. Everybody needs to get some rest.
  5. I need to help him.


To venture

  1. How dare you disturb me?
  2. Do you dare to swim in the river?
  3. He dare not speak against me.
  4. He didn't dare to open the door.

Used to
Past habit

  1. My uncle used to go for a walk every morning.
  2. My grandmother used to go for a temple daily.
  3. He used to drink when he was young.