Introduction to Modals

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Introduction to Modals :

The verbs BE (be / am / is / are / was / were / being / been), do (do / does / did) and have (have / has / had) can be used with other verbs to make tenses, questions, negatives and passive voice.

When used like this, they are called auxiliary verbs (= helping verbs) or auxiliaries.

Look at these sentences.

He is reading.
The auxiliary IS helps to make a tense. The tense is present continuous.

They were watching TV.
The auxiliary WERE helps to make the past continuous tense.

We have bought a car.
The auxiliary HAVE helps to make the present perfect tense.

Did you pay the money?
The auxiliary DID helps to make a question.

H e doesn’t smoke.
The auxiliary DOES helps to make a negative.

The thief wav arrested.
The auxiliary WAS helps to make passive voice.

They have been playing chess all afternoon.
The auxiliaries HAVE & BEEN together help to make the present perfect continuous tense.

The computer is being repaired.
The auxiliaries IS & BEING help to make the present continuous tense and passive voice.

BE, HAVE & DO are ordinary verbs (not auxiliaries) in the following sentences.

1. My uncle is a doctor.
2. The phone was out of order.
3. I usually have bread for breakfast.
4. He did a lot of work yesterday.

There are also auxiliaries of a different type.

They are…

1. Can
2. Could
3. May
4. Might
5. Will
6. Would
7. Shall
8. Should
9. Must
10. Ought

These verbs add meanings like possibility, permission, ability & necessity. They are called modal verbs or modals. They are sometimes called modal auxiliaries.

1. I may see you tomorrow. (Possibility)
2. You can borrow this DVD. (Permission)
3. She can speak English fluently. (Ability)
4. I must be home by 9 o’ clock. (Necessity)
5. Shall I carry the bag for you? (Offer)
6. Would you give me a lift? (Request)

As you may have noticed, modals are used with the base form of a verb.

Ought is an exception.

We use OUGHT with the TO infinitive.

He ought to go…
They ought to pay….
You ought to respect your teachers.

Auxiliaries and modals come before the subject in questions and can be put before NOT (or) N’T.

They are used in negatives, questions & question tags without do / does / did.

They have arrived.
Have they arrived?
They haven’t arrived.

He can swim.
Can he swim?
He can’t swim.

You should work hard.
Shouldn’t you?
Yes. I should.

Modals have only one form. They never have endings like S, ING and ED.

NEED and DARE are sometimes used like modal verbs as in the following sentences.

You needn’t go there.
The negative is formed without DO.

Need he come with us?
The question is formed without DOES.

I daren’t talk to him.
The negative is formed without DO.

Compare the above sentences with the sentences below.

NEED and DARE are ordinary verbs in these sentences.
They are used with DO and DOES.

You don’t need to go there.
Does he need to come with us?
I don't dare to talk to him.

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