Grammar Reference: Modal Verbs Can I go to the toilet? You should

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  • Can I go to the toilet?
  • You should stop smoking!
  • If you want a healthier life, you must change your habits.
  • Modal Verbs are a type of auxiliary verb.
  • They are also called auxiliary verbs and are used with the main verb to form a statement or question.
  • After the modal verbs we always use the infinitive.
  • Some MODAL VERBS in English are:
  • In questions, CAN asks for permission or about possibilities.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous to your health.
  • I can speak four languages fluently.
  • Can I go to the toilet?
  • Who can help me with my homework?
  • Indicates POSSIBILITY or ABILITY in the PAST.
  • COULD is also used to state hypothesis and make speculation.
  • The accident could have killed you.
  • When I was a child, I couldn’t play soccer very well.
  • If I had time, I could spend more time with my family.
  • In this case, he could be the victim.
  • MUST is used to say that we are sure something is true.
  • You must turn off your phones inside the classroom.
  • You mustn’t smoke inside this building.
  • You live downtown, right? Your house must be very noisy.
  • He must be very rich! Look at his expensive car.
  • Indicate an UNCERTAIN ACTION.
  • MAY can also be used to ask for permission in formal situations.
  • I don’t know where he is. He may (might) be in his office.
  • The shop may (might) give us a discount in the next purchase.
  • May I drink some water?
  • May I have another slice of pizza?
  • Indicate suggestion or recommendation.
  • SHOULD is also used to say what is correct in a situation or refer to an uncertain prediction.
  • You should eat less if you want to lose weight.
  • You should study more. Your grades are not good.
  • The Police should arrest that man soon.
  • The price of the gas should increase in the next weeks.


  • What couldn’t you do when you were a child that you can do now?
  • In order to have a healthier life, what should you do less or more?
  • List some of the things you must and you mustn’t do in your classroom.

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