Modal auxiliaries are helping verbs which are not affected by person or gender, e.g.. will, would, shall, should, may, might, can, could, ought, must, dare, need using too.

These auxiliaries express the mode or manner of the actions denoted in the main verb.

The peculiar nature of the Modals is that :

 (i)  They are never used alone. They must have a principal verb with them.

I can play the violin.

(ii)  They have the same form throughout whatever the person and number of the subject.

I can run; they can rum you can run.

(iii) They do n’t have infinite or participle form. We can’t use ‘to’ with them or the past participle form or write ‘can driven’ etc. In most cases, they show present or future time.


1. Shall 

(i)  To express future with the first person (I, we):

(ii) To express a command, threat or promise :

(iii) In interrogative sentences, shall is widely used with the first person to indicate after or suggestion and with the third person to know the desire of the person spoken to :

(iv) In a complex sentence, however, ‘will’ and ‘shall’ are always used in the principal clause and never in the subordinate clause :

Note: ‘Will’ is used in the doubtful case.

2. Should (Past form of Shall)

(i)  To express dray or obligation.:

(ii) To  express supposition:

(iii) To express advice :

(iv) To express condition :

(v) As past tense of shall in indirect speech:

(vi) After lest (showing fear) :

3. Will

(i)  In the second person and third person to express simple future time :

(ii) To express intention, promise, threat and determination :

(iii) To express assumption, a request :

(iv) To indicate characteristics or habit, insistence, the invitation :

Note: In the interrogative sentence, a will is never used with the first person.

4. Would (Past form of will)

(i)  As past tense of will in indirect speech :

(ii) To express a habit in the past

 (iii) To express willingness :

(iv) To express a wish :

(v) To express a request :

5. Can

(i) To express ability :

(ii) To express permission :

(iii) To express possibility:

Note: Can indicate a theoretical possibility and may a factual possibility.

6. Could (Past form of Can)

 (i) As past tense of the can in indirect speech :

(ii) To express ability in the past :

(iii) To express a polite request :

(iv) To express possibility :

(v) To express permission Could I use your telephone?

7. May

(i) To express permission:

(ii) To express possibility:

(iii) To indicate a purpose :

(iv) To express a wish, faith or hope :

8. Might (Past form of May)

(i) To express a suggestion :

(ii) To express less possibility :

(iii) To express purpose :

(iv) ‘Might’ is the past, form of ‘May :

(v) To express permission :

(vi) To express guess :

9. Must

(i) To express compulsion :

 (ii) To express. determination :

(iii)  To express some strong possibility :

(iv) To express obligation or duty:

Note: In the negative or interrogative, must is not used in this sense. Instead of it, can is used.

10. Ought (always followed by a to-infinitive)

(i) To express moral obligations, duty or desirability:

Note: The idea of obligation can also be expressed with should or must. However, ought to is used when a feeling of duty is involved. The negative form of ought to is ought not to.

 (ii) To express probability/to give advice :

11. Dare

Dare as a modal auxiliary means ‘be bold enough to’. It is commonly used in interrogative and negative sentences.

Note: It does not take’s’ in the third person (singular) in Present Tense.

12. Need

Need is used to express necessity in negative and interrogative sentences. It does not take in the third person. Singular, present tense and takes for its objects an infinitive without ‘to’.

13. Used to

(i) To express past habit :

(ii) To express the existence of something in the past:

Worksheets and Exercise Are:-


Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets No. 1 & 2
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets No. 3 & 4
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets No. 5 & 6
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets No. 7 & 8
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets  No. 9 & 10
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets  No. 11 & 12
Modal Verb Rules, Exercises and Worksheets  No.13 & 14