Friday, December 28, 2007

Modal Auxiliaries

The following is a list of modal auxiliaries, along with their meanings and an example.


a. can:
(ability) – I can ride a bike.
(question) – Can I help you?

b. could
(past ability) – I couldn't make it to the party.
(Note: “make it” to an event = attend the event)

(polite question) – Could you please lend me a hand?
(Note: “lend someone a hand” = help someone)

c. may
(possibility) – She may visit Europe next summer.
(polite question) – May I help you?

d. might
(possibility) – She might visit Europe next summer.

e. must
(necessity) – You must be in bed by 10 o’clock.

f. should
(advisability) – You should eat all your vegetables.

g. will
(future happening) – I will call you later tonight.

h. would
(polite question) – Would you please pass the salt?

i. be able to
(ability) – I won’t be able to go see the movie with you.

j. be going to
(future happening) – He’s going to call tonight.

k. has / have to
(necessity) – I have to do laundry tonight.

l. had to
(past necessity) – I had to do laundry last night too.

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