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  • Exercise: Modal Verbs and Semi-modal Verbs

    • Unfinished
    • High Beginner
    • Modal verbs
    • Auxiliary verbs
    • Semi-modal verbs

    Modal verbs Auxiliary verbs Semi-modal verbs

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  • What's Inside?

    30 exercise questions on modal verbs and semi-modal verbs. Increase your skill by doing the questions.

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Master These Skills - Modal Verbs And Semi-Modal Verbs

Review various modal verbs and semi-modal verbs.

Review of Modal and Semi-modal Verbs

Modal verbs are words like "must", "should", "can", and "could". They add so much meaning to a sentence.

Semi-modal verbs are "have to" and "ought to". Both of them mean "need to do something" or "must".

Must: This is for need or obligation.

Your teeth hurt. You say, "I must see a dentist." You can also say, "I have to see a dentist." or "I ought to see a dentist."

Can and could: This is for ability. "Could" is the past tense of "can".

A dog can walk on land. A fish cannot walk on land.

An old man could ride a skateboard many years ago, but now, he cannot.

Should: This is for advice or suggestion.

Your friend is hungry. You have a sandwich. He doesn't ask for the sandwich. You tell him, "You should eat my sandwich."

It is raining outside. Your friend needs to go home. She doesn't have a car. You tell her, "You should take my car."

Might: This is for chance (possibility).

There is a man outside. He is looking around. You have a car outside. You are worried. "The man might steal my car."

The sky is dark. There are some dark clouds. "It might rain soon."

May: This is for both chance (possibility) and permission.

The sky is dark. There are lots of dark clouds. "It may rain soon."

You friend sees your delicioius sandwich. He wants to try it. You tell him, "Sure, you may eat my sandwich."

So, both "may" and "might" are for chances.

A chance chart with modal verbs on it

To make a negative sentence, add "not" after the modal verb.

A person should not steal.

Note, "cannot" is 1 word. "Can not" is wrong.

Modal verb chart

Review of Forming a Question

Forming a question is easy. You just have to flip the subject and the modal verb.

I should see a dentist.

Should I see a dentist?

Forming a question using a modal verb

To form a question with a question word (What, when, where, how, why, which), just put the question word at the front.

How may I help you?

What can you buy in the store?

Questions with parts of speech labelled

You need to choose the right modal verb carefully.

"have to" is for obligation (need to, must). We don't usually form a question with "must". We say, "Do you need to ...?"

Examples: Do I have to go to school? Does a teacher have to give homework on the weekend?

"can" and "could" are for ability (able to).

Examples (can): Can your baby walk? Can a casino ever lose money?

Example (could): How could you be so irresponsible?

"could", "can", and "may" are for permission or request (is it OK to). Questions with "could" or "may" are polite, and questions with "can" are between friends or families.

Examples of "could" and "may": Professor, may I ask a question? Ms. Wilk, could you review my report, please?

Example of "can": Ashley, can I come to your house tonight? Jason! Can you move?

"should" is for suggestion (an advice).

Examples: What should I study today? When should the students go to the gym?

A chart for modal verb questions
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