Modals are auxiliary verbs that indicate modality. Modality is the attitude or the connotation we want to express.

Modal verbs are used to express: ability, advice, obigation, prohibition, permission, possibility…..

Ability  – can  / could (in the past)

Obligation  – must  / have to

Prohibition  – mustn’t  / can’t 

Absence of obligation  – don’t have to  / needn’t

Advice  should  / ought to

Permission  – may  / can / could

Certainty  – must 

Probability  – may / might / can / could 


  • Ability  ➣He can speak several languages ➣I could jump when I was younger
  • Obligation   ➣You must stop at a red traffic light ➣I have to work
  • Prohibition    ➣We mustn’t tell him ➣You can’t smoke here
  • Absence of obligation  ➣She doesn’t have to do that ➣He needn’t buy it
  • Advice  ➣He should study more ➣She ought to eat less
  • Permission  ➣Can we come? May I go to the toilet?
  • Certainty  ➣He must be very tired. He has been working hard
  • Probability   ➣It may / might rain tomorrow  ➣This can / could be dangerous

Modals verbs exercises

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