Modals - English Grammar

1) can

Use Examples
ability to do sth. in the present (substitute form: to be able to) I can speak English.
permission to do sth. in the present (substitute form: to be allowed to) Can I go to the cinema?
request Can you wait a moment, please?
offer I can lend you my car till tomorrow.
suggestion Can we visit Grandma at the weekend?
possibility It can get very hot in Arizona.

2) could

Use Examples
ability to do sth. in the past (substitute form: to be able to) I could speak English.
permission to do sth. in the past (substitute form: to be allowed to) I could go to the cinema.
polite question * Could I go to the cinema, please?
polite request * Could you wait a moment, please?
polite offer * I could lend you my car till tomorrow.
polite suggestion * Could we visit Grandma at the weekend?
possibility * It could get very hot in Montana.

3) may

Use Examples
possibility It may rain today.
permission to do sth. in the present (substitute form: to be allowed to) May I go to the cinema?
polite suggestion May I help you?

4) might

Use Examples
possibility (less possible than may) * It might rain today.
hesitant offer * Might I help you?

5) must

Use Examples
force, necessity I must go to the supermarket today.
possibility You must be tired.
advice, recommendation You must see the new film with Brad Pitt.

6) must not/may not

Use Examples
prohibition You mustn't work on dad's computer.
You may not work on dad's computer.

7) need not

Use Examples
not necessary I needn't go to the supermarket, we're going to the restaurant tonight.

8) ought to

Use Examples
advice You ought to drive carefully in bad weather.
obligation You ought to switch off the light when you leave the room.

9) shall

instead of will in the 1st person

Use Examples
suggestion Shall I carry your bag?

10) should

Use Examples
advice You should drive carefully in bad weather.
obligation You should switch off the light when you leave the room.

11) will

Use Examples
wish, request, demand, order (less polite than would) Will you please shut the door?
prediction, assumption I think it will rain on Friday.
promise I will stop smoking.
spontaneous decision Can somebody drive me to the station? - I will.
habits She's strange, she'll sit for hours without talking.

12) would

Use Examples
wish, request (more polite than will) Would you shut the door, please?
habits in the past Sometimes he would bring me some flowers.

* no past forms - future forms

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