Grammar Time!

Modal Verbs Table

Modal USES Present / Future PAST
be supposed to expectation We are supposed to meet them here. We were supposed to meet here.
be to strong expectation We are to meet them here. We were to meet them here.
can / could

Can - Can't

ability / possibility

informal permission

informal polite request

impossibility (negative only)
I can learn modal verbs online.

You can use my car tomorrow.

Can I borrow your book?

Cats can't swim.
I could jump high a few years ago but now I can't.

That can't have been true!
have to necessity

lack of necessity (negative)
I have to go to class today.

I don't have to go to class today.
I had to go to class yesterday.

I didn't have to go to class yesterday.
have got to necessity I have got to go to class today I had to go to class yesterday.
had better strongly advised You had better be on time. (past form uncommon)
may polite request
formal permission
less than 50% certainty
May I borrow your book?
You may leave the room.
He may be at the school.


He may have been at school.
Might less than 50% certainty He might be at school. He might have been at school.
must strong necessity


95% certainty
I must go to class today.

You must not open that door.

Mary isn't in class. She must be sick.(present only)
I had to go to class yesterday.

Mary must have been sick yesterday.
ought to advisability

80% certainty
I ought to study tonight.

She ought to be at school
I ought to have studied last night.

She ought to have done well on the test.
shall ask another person's opinion (only used with I or we) Shall I invite them too?
Shall we dance?
should advisability

80% certainty
I should study tonight

He should be at school
You should have paid your bills.

He should have done well on the test.




Another Reference for Modals


Legal Obligation / Official MUST Police officer: 'You must wear a seatbelt.'
Logical Conclusion MUST The teacher's absent. She must be sick.
Reporting a Rule BE SUPPOSED TO We are supposed turn our cell phones off in movie theaters.
Personal Necessity / Obligation HAVE TO / HAVE GOT TO I have to call the doctor today.
Possibility CAN I can meet with you on Friday.
Ability CAN / BE ABLE TO I can play the piano.
I am able to speak English.
Permission CAN / BE ALLOWED TO I can have a dog in my apartment. I am allowed to have pets in my room.
Past Ability COULD / WAS ABLE TO When I was a kid, I could run for hours.
could vs was were able to
Past Permission WAS ALLOWED / PERMITTED TO I wasn't allowed to go out at nights.
Advice SHOULD You should call your mother on her birthday.
Warning HAD BETTER You'd better study before the test.
A Choice / Not required DON'T HAVE TO I don't have to wear a suit to work.
Possibility / Uncertainty about the future
*adverb MAYBE
MAY / MIGHT It might / may rain this evening.
May be it will rain this evening.
Polite request WOULD / COULD Would you open the door, please?
Permission MAY / CAN / COULD May I borrow your pen?
To express what you want WOULD LIKE I would like to learn English free.
Preference WOULD RATHER I would rather walk than drive.

Perfect Modals: Modal Verb + have + past participle

Perfect Modal

could have _____

couldn't have _____

past ability
doing the dishes
The boy could have done the dishes himself, but his father decided to help.

should have ____

shouldn't have ____

You did or didn't do something that was a good idea.
dizzy girl

The girl shouldn't have spun around so many times. She fell down.

spin: turn around many times.

spin / spun / spun

would have ____

wouldn't have ____

past condition /

past situation

house of cards
This house of cards would have fallen over if the person who built it hadn't been so careful.

may have _____

may not have _____

past possibility
old camera
My grandfather may have used this camera when he was a young man, but I'm not sure.

might have ______

might not have _____

past possibility
woman eating
Her mother might have put mustard on her sandwich. She hopes not.

must have ____

must not have ___

past probability.

This indicates that something probably happened in the past.

rock band
They must have practiced a lot because they're very good musicians.

Let's not forget...

The Future Perfect Tense

Unlike all the other modals above, will is used for the future:

Subject + will + have + past participle

I will have lived
We will have lived
You will have lived
You will have lived
He will have lived
She will have lived
They will have lived
It will have lived

This is a difficult tense to use. It describes an action that will be completed in the future.

For example:

I moved to Minnesota in 1991. The year now is 2008.

By 2011, I will have lived in Minnesota for 20 years.





Follow these links and do the exercises!



Fuente: Created by Susan Zilberstein
Fecha: 10/6/2020 | Creado por: Susana Beatriz
Categoria: Grammar
Etiquetas: Almagro, Inglés, B1+, 2020, Susan, Zilberstein