Modal Verbs And The Functions

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Modal verbs are special verbs (like must , have to , can , would , etc) which have certain function. Modals or modal auxiliary verbs are used to give the additional information or explanation about the function of the main verb that we use in a sentence. Modals have special characteristics.

They never change their form and they are always followed by infinitive without “to”. For example , we use “would go” not “would to go”. Commonly , modal verbs are used to express certainty , possibility , willingness , obligation , necessity , and ability.

Modals and Their Functions

Modal Function : to express Example
Must certainty conclucion That man has a lot of expensive cars. He must be very rich.
strong obligation Children must obey their parents.
prohibition You must not smoke here!
ought to
logical conclusion He should be tired. He’s been doing his homework all night long.
obligation You ought to start working at once.
advice or tips I think you should go to hospital.
Had better strong advice We had better hurry because we’re almost late.
Can ability He can answer these questions.
possibility Smoking can cause cancer.
permission You can go home now.
Could ability in the past When he was ten , he could answer these questions.
possibility If you want , we could go to the movies.
polite permission Could I say something?
May permission May I use your computer?
possibility , probability She may be too busy to help you right now.
Might polite permission Might I use your computer?
possibility , probability You might become president one day.
Will invitation , request Will you come in , please?
logical possibility As a result , the market will close earlier than usual today.
Would will in past He said he would celebratehis birthday at home.
polite demand , invitation Would you sit down , please?

We can also classify modal verbs according to their functions.
Use Explanation Modal in example
Logical possibility strongest Anne looks very relaxed. She must know the answers to all these questions.
stronger As a result , Mr. president will go to South Sumatera earlier than the schedule.
strong This aplication would not work well everyday.
strong He should be tired. He’s been working all day long.
strong enough He may be too busy to help you right now.
weak Smoking can cause impotent.
weak If I have spare time , we could go to the movies.
weak They might have nothing to do at the moment , but I’m not sure.
Obligation strong Everybody must wear a uniform at the ceremony.
weak (50%) You should go to your grandmother’s home.
Permission most polite May I borrow your magazine?
polite Could I use your pen? I don’t see mine.
impolite Can I use your computer?
Ability Strong She can answer all these questions.
weak I could easily jump over the wall when i was younger.
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