segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2010

Modal Verbs - You MIGHT use them all the time!

What it do Flabbergasting English People?
Today's Fortune: Carpe Diem

It has been sometime I would like to write about Modal Verbs because my students, every now and then, come up with a question regarding their usage. However, Modal Verbs are not a tough nut to crack. That is the reason why I posted that photo. A relaxing topic must go with a relaxing picture.

Modal Verbs give more information about the function of the main verb that follows it. They indicate modality. These are:

Shall/shan't and Should/shouldn't - are both used when one is giving suggestion or a piece of advice. i.e.: If you got the flu, you shouldn't drink cold water or Let's go shopping, shall we?

Will/won't(future tense) and Would/wouldn't(conditional) - are both used as auxiliary verbs: Will (Simple Future) and Would(Conditional)i.e.: I promise I will be there. or I would travel if I had money to.

May(may not) and Might(might not) - are both used for permission and probability i.e.: She may be taller than you. or I might be coming late because of the traffic.

Can/can't(present tense) and Could/ couldn't(past tense) - are both used for permission and/or ability, according to the context. i.e.: I could swim when I was 6 years old. or Can I go out, mom?

Must/mustn't (present tense)- is used for obligation. Those situations in which something is mandatory. i.e.: You must be here by 6:00pm. or She must work now that she will have a baby.

General Rules of Modal Verbs

1. Modal Verbs are already auxiliary verbs.
2. The following verb comes in its basic form.
3. Modal Verbs have one conjugation for all persons.
4. No preposition is used after Modal Verbs.
5. Make the negative form of a Modal Verb by adding the word "not" after it.

So as to make this post more complete, we thought about the verbs that have characteristics in common with the Modal Verbs, but are not considered to be one of them. They are sometimes called Semi-Modal Verbs. These are:

ought to = should - You ought to go to the mall again so as to sort those things out with the clerk.
have to = must - I have to get going!
used to - I used to be a great horseback rider.
dare - How dare you?
need - Need you to go now?
Had better/'d better - You had better go now!

I should have gone back to school a while ago, but I got really excited about this topic. Could you understand everything? Hope you did.
See you guys soon,

Rodrigo Pelegrini Honorato
ESL Teacher

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