Can, could, may, might, must, should, will, shall, would
They convey a subjective concept often expressing the judgment, intention, point of view and role of the speaker. Learning how to use them will save you in many embarrassing situations when you don’t really know how to express an idea (in some situations grammar seems to be very tricky, especially for Vietnamese learners). Here are few reasons why I believe you should use modal verbs in speaking:
- There is no auxiliary for questions, negatives or short answers. I know that forming questions in English language is extremely difficult for Vietnamese learners and not only. Vietnamese language has a totally different question structure. If you use modal verbs then you don’t have to use auxiliary verbs. (Example: Can you go to the supermarket?)
- They (modal verbs) always come first in a group of verbs (Example: I must go to eat something)
- Modal verbs don’t have infinitive form (there is NO …. To can or to should)
- Modal verbs are invariable, there is NO 3rd person “s”, no “-ing” form, no past participle and no past form (there are exceptions: “would” and “could” show past of “will” and “can”)
Anyway, there are few more things you should know about modals …. Here you have the difficult part.
- The same form will have different meaning (can = ability, permission, request) so the choice of the appropriate modal depends on intention, point of view and role of the speaker.
Can you ride a bicycle? (Ability)
Can I ride your bicycle? (Permission)
- Affirmative, negative and question forms may have different meanings or uses and opposite concepts may have different forms.
You must wear a uniform (strong obligation)
You can’t wear a uniform (strong negative obligation)
You don’t have to wear a uniform (absence of obligation)
- Pronunciation – weak form – learners find it difficult to produce them
- Some modals look like past form creating confusion.
- What learners expect to be negative form is not (the negative of must is don’t have to)
- Nobody (I mean almost all Vietnamese learners of English) doesn’t know which modal to use and when to use.
Do you have any problem using modal verbs? Fell free to ask for help, use the comment form bellow.