Modal verbs are used to show your attitude to the world. They are used to express the following: certainty; possibility ; willingness; obligation; necessity, and ability.
The core modal verbs are: can, could, may, might, will, shall, would, should, must
The semi-modal verbs are: dare, need, ought to, used to
Rather than give a complete description of the uses of the above, I thought it would be more useful just to focus on some common problems with modal verbs by means of a quiz.
Modals Quiz (The answers follow the quiz)
1. Which is correct?
a) You should always keep your PIN in a safe place.
b) You always should keep your PIN in a safe place.
2. Which is better: can, could or are both OK?
What shall we make for dinner? Well, we ……. go out for a change.
3. Is this sentence correct?
She can’t eat fish. You’d better prepare something else, just in case.
4. Is this sentence correct?
They could pass the exam if they’d made more effort.
5. Which of the following is correct?
When I lived in I France I could speak French quite well.
I could speak French quite fluently in the meeting yesterday.
6. What’s the missing word?
She said she …………… go to the party as she had too much work to do.
She said she ………… go to the party as her boss would be there and she didn’t want to meet him.
7. Which is more likely?
I might go away at the weekend
I may go away at the weekend
8. Why is this sentence incorrect? What’s the correct version?
Until a few years ago, people might find a job quite easily.
9. Can you think of a three word expression that fits into both these sentences?
a) She …………………me. I can’t remember if she did or not.
b) She ………………….me. If I had known, I wouldn’t have done all the extra work
10. Complete the following using must or can in a suitable form.
There are no lights on in the house. They …………..out
There are no lights on in the house. They …………….. in
11. Can you use all three verb forms in bold in the following sentences?
You needn’t / mustn’t / don’t have to finish the report today. I can wait until the end of the week.
12. Rewrite the following without using ‘should’
You should go home to rest.
You don’t look too good.
You should get there by 5 o’clock providing the trains are on time.
13. Which of the following is more natural?
If you go to Japan, you had better visit Kyoto.
If you go to Japan, you should visit Kyoto
14. Why is this sentence incorrect?
I used to go swimming two times last week.
15. Think of two ways of filling the gap in this sentence.
She ……………………there by 6 o’clock, but she didn’t come.
I hope the above has given you a better understanding of how to use modal verbs.
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