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Grammar

List of Modal Verbs in English Language with Examples

Modal Verb Meaning Expressing Example
must to have to 100 % obligation I must stop when the traffic lights turn red.
to be very probable logical conclusion (deduction) He must be very tired after such enormous work
must not not to be allowed to prohibition You must not smoke in the hospital.
can to be able to ability I can swim
to be allowed to permission Can I use your phone please?
it is possible possibility Smoking can cause cancer !
could to be able to ability in the past When I was younger I could stay up all night and not get tired..
to be allowed to more polite permission Excuse me, could I just say something?
it is possible possibility It could rain tomorrow!
may to be allowed to permission May I use your phone please?
it is possible, probable possibility, probability It may rain tomorrow!
might to be allowed to more polite permission Might I use your phone please?
it is possible, probable weak possibility, probability I might come and visit you in America next year, if I can save enough money.
need necessary necessity Need I say more?
need not not necessary lack of necessity/absence of obligation I need not buy any tomatoes. There are plenty in the fridge.
should/ought to used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do 50 % obligation I should / ought to see a doctor. I have a terrible headache.
to suggest an action or to show that it is necessary advice You should / ought to revise your lessons
to be very probable logical conclusion (deduction) He should / ought to be very tired after such enormous work
had better to suggest an action or to show that it is necessary advice You ‘d better revise your lessons

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