Modal Verbs – Explore Uses, Examples and Practice Exercise

Learn all about modal verbs and their usage in sentences. Check out the examples and the practice exercise to have a better idea.

Table of Contents

What is a Modal Verb?

A modal verb is a helping verb that is used along with the main verb to represent the ability, possibility and probability of a subject to do an action and emphasise on the necessity of an action.

Examples of Modal Verbs

Let us look at some examples of modal verbs used as auxiliary verbs and their functions.

Modal Verb

Function

Can

Used to denote the ability of the subject to perform an action or to request permission to perform an action

Could

Used to denote the ability of the subject to perform an action or an offer made by the subject to perform an action

May

Used to denote the probability of an action taking place or to request permission to perform an action

Might

Used to denote the probability of an action taking place or to make suggestions

Will

Used to denote the surety of an action taking place or the assurance of the subject to perform a particular action

Would

Used to show politeness when requesting or asking if an action can be done by the subject.

Shall

Used to denote the surety of an action taking place or the assurance of the subject to perform a particular action

Should

Used to denote the necessity of an action to be done by the subject

Must

Used to denote the necessity of an action to be done by the subject

Ought to

Used to denote the obligation of the subject to perform a particular action

How to Use Modal Verbs in Sentences

Given below are a few examples of how modal verbs can be used to indicate the possibility or probability of an action to take place.

  • It might rain in the evening.
  • I think they will reach Coimbatore by 8 pm.
  • Can you pick up my brother from school on your way home tomorrow?
  • I could make some time to help you with your assignments.
  • Your friends may come to visit you next week.
  • It would not be possible for you to complete all of it by tomorrow evening.

Here are some examples of modal verbs being used to show the necessity and obligation of the subject to perform a particular set of actions.

  • All students of this institution ought to abide by the rules and instructions provided.
  • All employees should follow the dress code strictly.
  • You must get yourself checked before the situation becomes worse.
  • Your sister will have to apply for a leave request if she wants to take a month’s leave.

Modal verbs can be used to make offers, suggestions and requests. Check out the examples given below for know-how.

  • It would be better if you did it the other way.
  • I could help you if you want.
  • Shall I bring you some water to drink?
  • Could you please pass me the science record?
  • Will you please take care of my son for an hour? I have some grocery shopping to be done.

Test Your Knowledge of Modal Verbs

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate modal verb in the following sentences:

1. ________ you be able to bring your camera when you come?

2. Priya __________ apologise for the confusion that was caused yesterday because of her carelessness.

3. You _______ finish this first and then start with the other one.

4. ________ I make some tea for you?

5. I ______ make sure to keep everything ready by the time they reach the railway station.

6. You _______ see to it that the students are standing according to their roll numbers.

7. ______ I come in?

8. She _______ find it interesting as she likes reading adventure stories.

9. Do you have any idea how much all of this _______ cost?

10. ______ you please help me find my keys?

Ready to find out if you used the right modal verbs? Let us check.

1. Would you be able to bring your camera when you come?

2. Priya should/ought to apologise for the confusion that was caused yesterday because of her carelessness.

3. You could finish this first and then start with the other one.

4. Shall I make some tea for you?

5. I will make sure to keep everything ready by the time they reach the railway station.

6. You must see to it that the students are standing according to their roll numbers.

7. Can/Shall/May I come in?

8. She might find it interesting as she likes reading adventure stories.

9. Do you have any idea how much all of this would cost?

10. Can/Would/Could/Will you please help me find my keys?

Frequently Asked Questions on Modal Verbs in English Grammar

What is a modal verb?

A modal verb is a helping verb that is used along with the main verb to represent the ability, possibility and probability of a subject to do an action and emphasise on the necessity of an action.

What are the examples of modal verbs?

Will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must, ought to are the modal verbs in the English language.

How do you use modal verbs in sentences?

Here are some examples of how you can use modal verbs in sentences.

  • I could help you if you want.
  • Shall I bring you some water to drink?
  • Your sister will have to apply for a leave request if she wants to take a month’s leave.
  • All students of this institution ought to abide by the rules and instructions provided.
  • Can you pick up my brother from school on your way home tomorrow?

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