What are modal verbs?

Modals (also called modal verbs, modal auxiliary verbs, modal auxiliaries) are special verbs that behave irregularly in English. They are different from normal verbs like “work, play, visit…” They give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows it. They have a great variety of communicative functions.

Here are some characteristics of modal verbs:

  • They never change their form. You can’t add “s”, “ed”, “ing”…
  • They are always followed by an infinitive without “to” (e.i. the bare infinitive.)
  • They are used to indicate modality and allow speakers to express certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, ability

List of modal verbs

Here is a list of modal verbs:

can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must

The verbs or expressions dareought tohad betterand need not behave like modal auxiliaries to a large extent and may be added to the above list

Use of modal verbs:

Modal verbs are used to express functions such as:

  1. Permission
  2. Ability
  3. Obligation
  1. Prohibition
  2. Lack of necessity
  3. Advice
  4. possibility
  5. probability

Examples of modal verbs

Here is a list of modals with examples:

What are modal verbs? ( Part-1st )

What are modal verbs? ( Part-2nd )

What are modal verbs? ( Part-3rd )