CAN possibility, ability and permission in the present or future.
neg. – logical impossibility
I can speak many languages.
Can I go to the party?
She can’t be at home, I saw her 10 minutes ago.
COULD ability, possibility and permission in the past or in polite requests
He could swim when he was only four.
Could you help me, please?
I couldn’t understand him.
BE ABLE TO ability and opportunity in the past, present or future (specific occasion)
I am able to get all the work done.
Were you able to stop the car in time?
They won’t be able to stop it.
MAY possible and probable actions in the future; permissions and possible conditions
You may telephone from here.
May I take a photo?
He may not go to the party. He’s sick.
MIGHT possible actions in the future or improbable events or situations.
I might be working late tomorrow.
He might not be at home.
What might happen?
MUST obligation, necessity, deduction; in the negative form – prohibition
You must take your medication regularly.
My glasses must be here somewhere.
He mustn’t tell anyone what I said.
HAVE TO obligation
I have to work on Sundays.
Do you have to get your passport?
She doesn’t have to go to the dentist.
WILL facts in the future, predictions, invitations, characteristic behaviour
I’ll wait for you if you like.
Will you have a cup of tea?
She’s on diet. She won’t eat at all.
WOULD past prediction, prediction about a possible situation; politeness; past of “will”
How about a cup of tea? That would be nice.
Would you go without me?
I wouldn’t go without you.
SHALL offers, suggestions
Shall I close the window?
Shall we dance?
SHOULD advice; past form of “shall”; logical consequence
You should accept the job.
Should we tell him the news?
She shouldn’t be so shy.
OUGHT TO saying what is the right thing to do
She ought to be working.
You oughtn’t to forget your obligations.
A) Complete the sentences with appropriate modal verbs.
1. ____________ you ____________ to get up early?
2. They’re having a baby. They ____________ have to buy a bigger house.
3. I’m sorry I ____________ help you with your homework.
4. ____________ we go out tonight?
5. Why don’t you apply for that job? You ____________ get it.
6. I think we ____________ do something to stop pollution.
7. ____________ I borrow this book?
8. My wife is waiting for me. I ____________ not be late.
B) Write a second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first. Use the words in brackets.
1. Perhaps Mary is doing overtime.
2. I managed to go to university.
3. They should think very well before acting.
4. It’s forbidden to smoke here.
5. It’s impossible for you to see it at this distance.
6. It is possible that Anne did not see the message.
7. I advise you to study more in order to pass the exam.
8. She was able to play the piano when she was only four. __________________________________________________________________