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Jess: Sam, come to the party!
Sam: I can’t go to the party!
Jess: Of course you can! You may never see Sarah again.
Sam: You can’t make me go!
Jess: Now you really are behaving like a child. I may not be your mother but I´ll give you a good clip round the ear!
Sam: It might be easier for her if I don’t go.
Jess: Then again, it might not. I can’t think of any reason why Sarah wouldn’t want you there.
Sam: Has she said anything?
Jess: She hasn’t said anything. She needs to talk to someone and that someone is you.
Sam: Well, I can’t go like this. I need to get ready!
Jess: Well you’ve got 20 minutes. So hurry up!
Sam went to the party and talked to Sarah. She told him that she may be back in one year as she has applied for a Master’s.
The rest of the party was lovely, everyone had a wonderful time and everyone was sad to see Sarah go. Particularly Sam who promised to write to Sarah as often as he could.
Interactive Video Comprehension Quiz 1:
Summary Statements Comprehension Quiz 2:
Drag and Drop Quiz 3:
Modals are auxiliary verbs that are used when we want to emphasise the meaning in relation to certainty, obligation, ability, possibility, probability, ask permission, make requests and related aspects. The manners can be separated into two groups according to the meaning.
The first group is to project a degree of certainty, that something is certain, uncertain, probable, improbable, possible or impossible. The second is to project obligation, freedom to act, ability or incapacity.
The modals verbs are: CAN, COULD, MAY, MIGHT, SHALL, SHOULD, WILL and WOULD.
When we want to express that something is possible in the future we can use could, might and may:
He could call in sick and take the day off.
We might go to the party.
You may need to take the day off work.
If we want to express that something was possible at some time in the past, we can use could have, might have and may have:
He might have finished work by now.
She may have left it in the office.
To make general statements about what is possible, we use can:
You can buy three drinks for the price of two.
He can be a little difficult to get along with.
The past of Can is Could:
You could buy three drinks for the price of two.
He could be a little difficult to get along with.
Can’t or cannot be used to express that something is not possible:
He can´t make it to the party.
They cannot leave work early.
The past of Can’t/Cannot is Couldn’t/Could not:
He couldn´t make it to the party.
They couldn´t leave work early.
When we are sure that something is true, we use must:
They must be running late.
The sun is shining and you´re wearing a big coat. You must be boiling.
We use must have for the past:
They must have been running late as they missed the start of the film.
He must have been very hot in that big coat.
If something is true or will be true in the future, we use should:
He should know where a good parking spot it.
They should be here by now.
We use should have for the past:
I should have known that there was no place to park.
They should have been here by now.
Can is used when we talk about a skill in a subject or about general skills:
He can recall pi to 30 decimal places.
They can fill a concert hall in no time at all.
Can was also used to talk about the ability to do something in the present or future:
He can enter the competition but he doesn´t stand a chance.
They can plead as much as they want but I´m not going to do it.
The past of can is could:
We could afford it then.
She could sing every Queen song flawlessly.
Could have been used to suggest that someone has the ability or the opportunity to do something.
We could have gone to Cuba.
You could have returned the book that I lent to you.
When we want to ask permission to do something, we can use can:
Can we give the museum a miss today?
Can I finish work a little earlier?
If we want to be more formal, we can use could or may:
Could we give the museum a miss today?
May I finish work a little earlier?
We use can to give permission
Of course you can borrow the book.
You can finish a little earlier today.
When we want to be more formal when it comes to giving permission, we use may:
Of course you may borrow the book.
You may finish a little earlier today.
We use can to say that someone has permission to do something:
They can leave whenever they wish.
We can enter the theatre twenty minutes before the show starts.
If we want to be more formal, we use may:
They may leave whenever they wish.
We may enter the theatre twenty minutes before the show starts.
Instructions and requests
To say or ask someone to do something, we use can and will:
Can you move your car, please?
Will you turn the music down please?
If we want to be nicer, we use could you and would you:
Could you pass me the salt please?
Would you help me move house please?
Suggestions and advice
Suggestions and tips are formed using should:
We should go to the cinema.
You should keep it on your person at all times.
We can also use could to make suggestions:
We could go to the cinema.
You could ask him for the day off.
Offers and invitations
The offers are made using can I or shall I:
Can I help you with something?
Shall I order a taxi for you?
I can / I could or I’ll / I will also be used to offer:
I can help you with that if you like.
I´ll pick something up for you.
Would you like it used for invitations:
Would you like to come for something to eat?
Would you like a drink?
If we want to be nicer we use you must or we must:
You must come for something to eat.
We must go for a drink.
Obligation and necessity
When it is necessary to do something, we use must:
We must book the holiday before January.
You must look like you mean business.
The past is had to:
We had to book the holiday before January.
I had to look like I meant business.
Advices and tips
Here are some notable factors about modal verbs:
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