Modals

MODALS


Ability


She can speak two foreign languages.
She is able/unable to run fast.
She has got the ability to draw portraits.
She can help me tomorrow.
She will be able to finish the project soon.
When he was young, he could run fast.
When he was young, he had the ability to run fast.


Could do vs was able to do


He could write fast.
He was able to drive after 20 driving lessons. = He
managed to drive after 20 driving lessons=He succeeded
in driving after 20 driving lessons.
He couldn’t speak English. =He wasn’t able to speak
English.

Possibility


She may/might/could come later.
She may be sleeping now.
She may have lied yesterday.
She may have been working since morning/for hours.
There may be a problem.
There may have been problems.
She may have been deceived.
Roads at this time of the year can be slippery.
Perhaps/maybe, she will come later.
It is possible/likely that she will come later.
She is likely to come later.
There is a (every, no) possibility/likelihood/chance that
she will come later.
There is a possibility/likelihood/chance of her coming
later.
In all probability/likelihood, she will come later.
The chances are that she will come later.

Assumption


He must have been working hard.
She can’t/couldn’t have been studying.
I (don’t) suppose/ think/ believe / assume/am sure he
left.

Advice


You had better drive slowly.
It would be better (for you) to take the train.
It would be better if you went to the dentist.
You would be better off wearing a coat.
You would be better off if you told the truth.
It is time/high time/about time you relaxed.
It’s advisable to exercise.
It’s advisable / essential that you (should) study.
It is essential for there to be silence.

Criticism


You should/ought to have prepared for the test.
You should / ought to have been listening to him.
It would have been better to follow/ if you had followed
her advice.
You would have been better off following / if you had
followed her advice.

Necessity


You needn’t answer the phone.
Need he come for an interview?
You didn’t need to pick her up.
You needn’t have picked her up.

Obligation


They must obey the rules.
I must stop smoking.
He has to do a lot of homework.
She is/was to write an essay.
She was to have written an essay, but she didn’t.
He had to save money for the trip.


Prohibition


You mustn’t / can’t talk loudly.
He is not to smoke here.
It’s forbidden/prohibited / not allowed to park here.
It’s against the law/the rules to exceed the limit.
Smoking in public places is forbidden/prohibited/ not
allowed.

Suggestions


Shall we watch a film?
What/how about watching a film?
Why don’t we watch a film?
Why not watch a film?

Permission /Concession


Can/May/Could/Might I turn on the radio?
Do you mind my turning/ if I turn on the radio?
Would you mind my turning/if I turned on the radio?
I was wondering if I could turn on the radio.
Yes, you may/can/could do it.
No, you may/can/could not do it.

Offers


Can I carry the suitcase for you?
Shall I carry the suitcase for you?
I will carry the suitcase for you.

Requests


Can/Could/ Will/Would you open the door?

Wishes


May you live in happiness.

Annoyance/ Surprise


How should I know where he is?
Why should I do what he says?
Who should visit me late at night but Mary!


Habits/Typical behaviour


He will always do his homework.

Criticism of typical behaviour


He will always arrive late.
He would always talk a lot.
He should know better than lie.
He should have known better than to arrive late.

Refusal


I won’t accept the offer.
He wouldn’t listen to me.


Acceptance with complaint


As there is nothing better to do, we may/might as well
watch this thriller.

Repetition of an action in the past


He would wake up early in the morning every day last
week.

Dare


He daren’t call me at night.
Dare you ignore your boss?
Don’t you dare speak to me like this again.

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