“Shall” is used to indicate future action. It is most commonly used in sentences with “I’ or “We”, and if often found in suggestions, such as “Shall we go?” It is also frequently used in promises or voluntary actions. In formal English, the use of “shall” to describe future events often expresses inevitability or predestination.
- Shall I help you? suggestion
- I shall never forget where I come from. promise
- This generous king shall be our next king. predestination
- I’m afraid Mr. Smith shall become our new director. inevitability
“Will” is used with promises or voluntary actions that take place in the future. “Will” can also be used to make predictions about the future.
- I promise that I will write you every single day. (promise)
- I will make dinner tonight. (voluntary action)
- He thinks it will rain tomorrow. (prediction)
“Must” is most commonly used to express certainty. It can also be used to express necessity or strong recommendation, although native speakers refer the more flexible form “have to”.
“Must not” can be used to prohibit actions, but this sounds very severe; speakers prefer to use softer modal verbs such as “should not” or “ought to” to dissuade rather than prohibit.
- This is must be the right address! certainty
- Students must pass an entrance exam to study at this school. necessity
- You must take some medicine for that cough. strong recommendation
- Selma, you must not play in the street. prohibition
“Might” is most commonly used to express possibility. It is also often used in conditional sentences. English speakers can also use “might” to make suggestions or requests, although this is less common in American English.
- Your cell phone might be in the living room. possibility
- If I didn’t have to work, I might accompany you to Rabat. conditional
- You might visit Marrakesh during your visit. suggestion
- Might I borrow your pen? request
NOTE: to express “possibility” in the present, “might” + “main verb with no infinitive marker”.
- Mouna might take the bus to get home, for Ahmed will not be able to give her a ride.
To express “possibility” in the past, we use “might have” + “past participle of the main verb”
- Mouna might not have taken the bus. She might have walked home.
“Might” is the conditional of “May”:
- If Messi entered the field, Barcelona might have won the game.
What is the difference between “might not” and “could not”?
“Might not” suggests you do not know if something happens. “Could not” suggests that it is impossible for something to happen:
- Jamal might not have the key. Maybe he does not have the key.
- Jamal could not have the key. It is impossible that he has the key.
“Should” is most commonly used to make recommendations or give advice. It can also be used to express obligation as well as expectations.
- When you go to my house, you should visit our backyard. recommendation
- Ahmed should focus more on his family and less on work. advice
- I really should be at the faculty by 8:00 AM. obligation
- By now, they should already be in Fes. expectation
Modal Verbs Quiz PART 2
Fill in the blanks with the right modal verbs from the list we've studied so far! Don't forget to share your score!!
Check out the Modal Verbs lesson here
You can try our other quizes here.
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