Modals also called modal verbs, modal auxiliary verbs, modal auxiliaries – are special verbs which ehave irregularly in English. They are different from normal verbs like ‘Be’ ”Do” ”have”. They give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows it. We cannot use modal verbs on their own in a sentence, as they are not complete by themselves. In other words, we have to use them with other verbs, which must be in the simple present tense.
The modal verbs are – CAN, COULD, MAY, MIGHT, WILL, WOULD, SHALL, SHOULD, and MUST. words such as OUGHT TO, USED TO, NEED, and DARE are SEMI MODAL VERBS as they can function as modal verbs as well as main verbs. Each of the modal verbs is used with another verb to express ideas such as ability, necessity, obligation, permission, possibility, wish, willingness, certainty, prohibition, opinion, skill, advice, opinion etc. that are not expressed by the main verb. How ever, one must note that each modal can express mre than one of these ideas.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MODAL 1. Modals are never used alone. They always come before the main verb. Modal verbs cannot be used on their own in a sentence. They must be followed by other verbs.
Incorrect : we would one hour to reach the office. Correct : We would take one hour to reach the office.
2. Modal verbs can however be used on their own when the main verb is understood. They will always appear in their simple form. The teacher could be taking a test . Yes, he could. She may be the thrilled on hearing the news. Yes, she may.
3. They are always followed by an infinitive without ‘to” also called the bare infinitive. Ought is an exception to this rule. It des require a to – infinitive but otherwise behaves like other modal verbs. There are exceptions such as: ought to – you ught to have taken permission from your parents. used to – I am getting used to the idea oof hitchhiking. Note : some times modal verbs can also be followed by a perfect infinitive. Example : It must have been the rain which spoiled the furniture ( This talks about the past)
4. They never change thier form. You can’t add “s”, ”ed”, ”ing”…. They have no non – finite forms ( present participle, past participle or infinitive.) As a consequence, they cannot appear in places in the verb phrase where one of these forms would be required : Incorrect – gauri willing here tonight. The government canned ignore its own rules. In other words, would is the past – tense of will , could is the past tense of can, etc. We frequently use all of these verbs to discuss future or potential events, and so these verbs may not intuitively feel like normal present or past tense verbs. But there are important ways in which the tense of these modals remains relevant.
In addition to this, in most cases they do not have a past form, so we need different forms like, Be Able to : I will be able to speak spanish in three months. or Be allowed to : You will be allowed to go out once you turn eighteen.
5. They do not agree in the third – person singular, as do other auxiliaries and lexical verbs. They do ot taken as -S when they follow the third person singular subect. Incorrect: She wills talk to us later. He shoulds get some rest You cannot say he cans or she wills
6. When used with singular or plural subect or noun, the modal verbs do not change their forms. The chief Guest will arrive later The guests will arrive later
7. Modals are used in the principal clause in conditional sentences. If i were you, i would offer the excess food to the poor and hungry children. If you had told me, I cold have helped you.
8. Modal verbs cannot be used with another modal verb. we can must get the proect today.
9. When a modal verb is part of a verb phrase in a sentence, it comes first after the subect and (a) Is followed by a main verb in the base form (subect + Modal + basic verb + ….) He can play the flute well. or (b) is followed by an auxiliary verb (be, do, have) He could be playing football at this time.
10. In most cases they function like auxiliaries for questions and negatives. Can you speak louder, please? No, I cannot speak louder. May I use this dictionary?
ADDITIONAL POINTS TO REMEMBER 1. Modal verb in question Modal verbs always come before the other verbs, but to form a question, the modal verbs are placed before the subect. Examples : Will everyone join with me in singing the school song? Must you always drink coffee to keep you awake?
2. Modal verb and Wh – question. Wh – questions begin with what, when, where, who, whom, which, whose, why and how. All these Wh – question words can be placed before the modal verbs to form wh- questions. Examples : Where should we start looking for the missing puppy? Whom do you wish to speak to? Why must you be so tenacious? How should we address the audience during the debate?
3. Modal verb and adverb When there’s an adverb in a sentence, the modal verb comes before the adverb. Examples : You should only say sorry when you mean it. You should absolutely take part in extra – curricular activities. The office will definitely contact you tomorrow.