There are two classes of verbs.
- Ordinary/ Regular Verbs
- Auxiliary Verbs
Auxiliary Verbs are of two kinds
- Primary Auxiliary (Be, do, have)
- Modal Auxiliary( May, might, should, must, will etc.)
What is Modal Auxiliary?
A verb used to express the mood(mode) or attitude of a speaker is called Modal Auxiliary. For Example
- You should regularly go for a morning walk.
- They must attend tomorrow's meeting.
- May I use your pen please?
- You can park the car in front of our house.
Most Commonly Used Modals
- Ought to
- Am/ Was to
- Have/ Had to
- Used to
- Shall, Will
All these Modals Suggest
- Suggestion, Advice
- Necessity, Compulsion
- Wish or Prayer
- Duty, Obligation
Different Uses of Modals1.May & Might : These modal auxiliary verbs 'may & might' are used to express.
- It may/might rain.
- He may/might go to Delhi tomorrow.
- You may fall.
- Teena said that she might go there.
- May I come in?
- Yes, you may come in.
(C) Wish or Prayer
- May you enjoy marital happiness!
- May you live long!
- She works hard so that she may pass.
- She came so that she might see me.
(E) Remote Possibility
'Might' is used in place of 'may' to express remote possibility.
- It might rain.
- He might be sleeping now.
Normally both 'May & Might' can be used to express possibility present and future. However, 'might' is used when the reporting verb is in the past.
(F) May/ Might + Have : They are used to express possibility/ desirability relating to the past action. For example
- He may/might have left yesterday. (It is possible he left)
- He might have failed. (It is possible he failed)
- Better, you might not have revealed the secret. ( The secret was revealed)
- Note: Sometimes 'May/Might have' give the opposite sense of the action.
2. Can & Could (Able to ) They are used to express
(A) Ability (Present, Past & Future)
- She can write English well. (is able to).
- Meetu could play at cards. (was able to)
- She will be able to help me. (future of 'can')
(B) Polite Request
- Could you please do it for me? ('would' is also used for polite request)
- Could you please lend me some money?
(C) Permission / Order
- Yes, you can go now.
- You can take my book. (Here 'can' is an alternative to 'may')
(D) Prohibition/ Offer
- You cannot enter the room. (Prohibition)
- Can I get you some fruits? (Offer)
- Can I help you? (Offer)
(i) Who is she with him?
She could be his wife. (possibly, she is)
(ii) How old is she?
She could be sixteen. (possibly, she is)
(F) Could + Have :This form is used for past ability while indicating that the action did not take place. For example
- I could have revealed the secret. (but I did not)
- You could have borrowed money. (but you did not)
- The police could have arrested him. (but they did not)
We will discuss following Modals in next Part
- Ought to
- To be + Infinitive
- To have + Infinitive
- Used To: Would
- Need & Need Not