MODAL AUXILIARIES:   These are the second type of auxiliary verbs. They are called modals because they show the mood of the sentence. These helping verbs give different shades of meanings to the sentence. Hence, to use English in its full strength we must learn these modals. There are number of modal auxiliaries.

Can                      could

Shall                     should

Will                       would

May                      might

Must                    must/had to

Used to

Need to

Ought to

Dare to

Let’s learn them one by one in detail.




Can  – be + able to

Can  – am/is/are +able to


  1. They can pass. (use be+ able to)

Answer: They are able to pass.

2.She cannot come today. (use be+ able to)

Answer: She is not able to come today.

  1. Advik cannot help me. (unable to)

Answer: Advik is unable to help me.

COULD = Was /were+ able to (past tense)

  1. Teacher could not solve the paper.

Answer:Teacher was not able to solve the problem


Use 2. To show POSSIBILITY:

Eg:1. It can rain today.

  1. 2. he can help you.

 Use 3. To ask & give permission.

Eg: Can I take your phone?

=Yes, you can.




  1. In the formation of future tense

With and we  — shall

With ALL other subjects— will (It is now a days common to use ‘will’ with every subject.)

Will:  to show certainty.

Eg. 1. I am going to temple. (Rewrite using modal auxiliary showing certainty)

I will go to temple.

  1. she has left her job. (Rewrite using modal auxiliary showing certainty)

She will leave her job.



  1. Past tense form of shall & will

Eg: I would go to goa

  1. To show past habits.

Eg. 1.Gandhiji would prey

  1. he would sit in the corner

3.To make polite requests.
        eg:.1. would you please help me?

  1. would you please guide me?



1.To show duty/ responsibility

Eg: 1. You should serve your parents.

  1. we should keep our city clean.
  2. To give advice.

Eg 1. You should work on your handwriting



1.To ask and give permission.

Eg. 1. May I come in?

Yes, you may.

  1. May I drink water?

Yes, you may.

  1. to show less possibility.

Eg. 1.They will help us. (less certain)

They can help us.

They may help us.

  1. To make wish.

Eg. 1. May you live long!

  1. May God bless you!



 1.To show less possibility.

Eg. 1. He might go.



  1. To show Compulsion/obligation.

Eg. 1 They must write.

  1. They fought well. (Rewrite using a modal auxiliary showing compulsion)

They must fight well.

3.she was drinking pure water. (Make it compulsory)

She must drink pure water



  1. Past tense form of ‘must’

Eg.1. he must have gone.

He must have gone.

  1. He must go.

He had to go.        I would sing.


USES:        I would sing.


1.To show past habits.

Eg. 1 I used to sing. (replace the modal auxiliary with another with same function)

I would sing.

  1. The boy went to gym. (Rewrite using a modal auxiliary showing past habit.)

The boy used to go to gym.

  1. My mother cooked beautifully. (Use ‘would’)

My mother would cook beautifully.





  1. To show Need mostly in negative sentence.

Eg.  You need not come.



  1. To show moral responsibility.

Eg.1. We ought to donate blood.

  1. We ought to help other.



  1. To show courage.

Eg. 1. Nobody dare to swim in the river.

2 Nobody dare to complete this task.

  • After every modal auxiliary we use the basic verb
  1. The old man forgot his address(use present perfect)

The old man  has forgotten his address

2 the shop keeper sold all coolers( use modal auxiliary showing certainty)

The shop keeper will sell all coolers

3 we used to attend meeting (identify the modal auxiliary & tell its function)

Modal auxiliary – used to

Function – it shows past habit

  1. I am waiting for him (use past participle)

I had waited for him

  1. they are drawing a picture (use modal auxiliary showing compulsion)

They must draw  a picture

6 my father grew vegetables (make negative by changing the meaning)

My father did not grew vegetables

  1. children could not reach in time(use be + able to )

Children were not able to reach on time

8 . the prince would punish is friends (replace the modal auxiliary with  another with same function)

The prince used to punish his friends

  1. you are doing exercise( use modal auxiliary showing advice)

You should do exercise

  1. you cannot use this pen (use ‘unable to)

You are unable to use this pen