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Modal verbs

Verbos Modales

Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verbs that are used to express modality, for example permission, obligation or ability. Modal verbs are special; they don't behave like the rest of verbs. These special characteristics are: Los verbos modales son un tipo de verbos auxiliares que se usan para expresar modalidad, por ejemplo permiso, obligación o habilidad. Los verbos modales son especiales, no se comportan como el resto de los verbos. Estas características especiales son: - They don't add -s to the 3rd person singular in the Present Simple. - They make questions by changing position with the subject (inversion). - They are directly followed by another verb in the base form (infinitive without to). - The negative form is modal verb + not No añaden -s a la 3ª persona singular del Present Simple. - Hacen las preguntas cambiando de posición con el sujeto (inversión). - Van directamente seguidos por otro verbo en forma base (infinitivo sin to). - La forma negativa es verbo modal + not Some of the verbs in the list below are semi-modals (have to, don't have to). They share some characteristics with modal verbs, but not all of them: they need an auxiliary in the negative and interrogative forms, and they add -s to the 3rd person singular in the Present Simple. Algunos verbos en la lista siguiente son semi-modales (have to, don't have to). Comparten algunas características con los verbos modales, pero no todas: necesitan un auxiliar en las formas negativa e interrogativa, y añaden -s a la 3ª persona singular del Presente Simple. Modal verb

Use

Example

can

Ability

She can drive a car.

Ask for/Give permission

Can I go to the toilet, please?

Lack of ability

They can't speak French.

Refuse permission

You can't go out tonight.

Ability in the past

I could walk when I was one.

Polite request for permission

Could I borrow your book?

Possibility

It could rain tonight.

couldn't

Lack of ability in the past

I couldn't speak when I was two.

must

Obligation (strong)

You must study harder.

mustn't

Prohibition

You mustn't speak in the library.

have to

Obligation

I have to go to the doctor.

can't

could


don't have to

Lack of obligation

I don't have to study in summer.

may

Possibility

He may arrive late.

Ask for/Give permission (polite) You may not go to that party. might

Possibility

I think it might snow today.

should

Advice

You should take it easy.

shouldn't

Negative advice

You shouldn't eat so much.

ought to

Advice (less common)

You ought to do some exercise.

shall

Offer/Suggestion

Shall we go dancing tonight?

will

Prediction

The temperatures will rise.

Request

Will you help me with this exercise?

Promise/Offer/Instant decision

I'll open the door for you.

Past habit

I would always cry when I was a child.

would


Modal verbs