Friday, 13 February 2015

Learning English Language : Modals.

Assalamualaikum WBT,

How do you do everyone? I would for you to keep on reading and look for something that excites you the most and relate that excitement in learning English language. It might be hard for you, but it worth trying, right?

Now, we have been discussing on several topics on English grammar. We too did discuss on Part of Speech which is really important for all of us to know about. As for this entry, I would love for you to know about Modals.

What are Modals?

Modals are verbs and it is used to add certain stress or emphasis to a message.

How is that for your understanding? Do not worry, I will try my very best to explain Modals with examples to you, okay?

There are 9 Modals that you need to remember. They are, can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should and must.


The modal CAN has THREE main functions.

1. To mean 'able to do something'.


I can sing very well.
Mei Ling can eat all day long.

2. To ask for permission. COULD is also used for this function and is a more polite form of request.

Examples :

Can/Could I watch television?
Can/Could we go out and play, please?

3. To show or to enquire about the possibility of an action. COULD+HAVE is used to refer the possibility of a past action. *COULD is PAST TENSE form of CAN

Examples :

Drinking can cause liver disease. *Drinking = alcohol related drinks
Could Razif have done with it?
Siti can finishes all these cakes.

The negative forms of CAN and COULD are CAN'T and COULDN'T. These are used to express negative ideas.

Both Can and Could can be used in any forms but it is better to use COULD instead of CAN to make requests since it is a more polite form.


May is used to :

1. ask for and give permission. It is more polite than CAN.

Examples :

May I go now? ( Ask permission )
May I go the toilet, teacher? ( Ask permission )
Yes, you may go to the toilet. ( Give permission )

2. show the possibility of an action or event happening. Might is used as the past tense of may. Might, however, can also be used to express the possibility of a future action. It shows a greater doubt than may.

Examples :

We may go to Penang this week. ( Possibility )
She might join us for dinner tonight. ( Doubtful possibility )
Kiki might have passed if he had been more careful. ( Past possibility )


Will is used to :

1. talk about the future (ie. form of future tense). It can also be used with if to form the conditional tense. Would is the past tense of will.

Examples :

Lela and Lily will choose the actors for the play. (Future sentence)
If Malik is sick, Az will replace him. (Conditional sentence)
Mei said, she would call me, but she didn't. (Past form)

2. to make invitations or requests. Would is also used for this function. It is a more polite form.

Will you hand me the remote control? (Request)
Would you love to be my partner for life? (Invitation)
Would you like some scones? (Invitation)


Shall is used only with the pronouns I and We. Shall is used to form the future and conditional tense. It is often used to make a promise or to show one's intention to do something.

Examples :

I shall begin a secretarial course soon. ( Intention )
If we don't hurry, we shall miss the place. ( Future possibility )
I shall return your money, tomorrow. (Promise)

Should carries the meaning ought to. It is used :

1. to express a duty or obligation.

Examples :

You should give more money to your parents.
We should advise and help him.

2. to show that an action was not done. Regret is often expressed in these sentences. Since the time referred to is past time, the phrase used is should have.

We should have bought the furniture when it was on sale.
They should have informed us that they were leaving.


The modal MUST has three main functions :

1. to show a necessity to do something.

Examples :

You must buy thee train ticket earlier since it's Hari Raya.
Mother must be extra careful when their children fall sick.

2. to give orders or commands.

You must finish your homework, now!
You must not talk in the library.

3. to refer to something which is logically true.

Old Mr. Kwan does a lot of charity work. He must be a generous and kind man.
Menon is not talking to me. He must be angry about something.

*it has the relations that only the first sentence has.

Note :

Both SHOULD and MUST can be used to give commands or orders. MUST, however, is more likely to have authorities while SHOULD makes sentence sound more like an advice.

Common mistakes :

The verb following a modal CANNOT have s,-ed or -ing added to it. It must be used in its original form.

So, that is all for now. Very Late Lunch, now! hahaha...

Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Congratulations Nadh for your Master's Degree in Mass Communication. 

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