Modal Verb

Grammar Index : 2

Modal verb is a special verb which behaves very differently from normal verb.

The following verbs are called Modal verbs.

Shall, should, will, would, may, might, can, could, must, ought and dare are called modal verbs.


When “shall” is used in the second or third person, it has the force of a command, a promise,

a thread, determination, certainty…

i. You shall not go out without my permission.

ii. He shall get my help.

iii. She shall be punished for his mistake.

iv. He shall apologize for his behavior.

v. No man shall take this way.


When “will” is used in the first person, it can express (in addition to the future tense) willingness,

a promise, a threat, determination…

i. I will help you.

ii. I will be there in your wedding.

iii. I will not allow him to go.

iv. I will not miss this opportunity.


“May” has the force of possibility and permission. In the past tense “might” is used.

i. He may come here.

ii. You may go now.

iii. I believed that he might be honest.


“Can” has the force of ability and permission.

i. He can do this work easily.

ii. She can go home.

iii. Everyone can learn this subject.


“Must” has the force of compulsion, necessity, determination, duty, certainty of belief, inevitability…

i. Everybody must attend this function.

ii. I must go urgently.

iii. I must have full freedom.

iv. A minister must be honest.

v. She must be made to talk like this.

vi. This building must be demolished in near future.


“Ought” indicated duty or moral obligation.

i. You ought to be careful.

ii. As the secretary I ought to have attended that meeting.

This verb “ought” must be followed by “to”.


“Dare” conveys the force of challenge or the courage to do a thing.

i. He dare not oppose me.

ii. The prime Minister dared the opposition to prove the charge.


“Need” has the force of necessity or obligation.

When this verb “need” is used to mean obligation in the negative or interrogative form,

‘s’ is not added to need in the third person singular(present tense).

i. She need not come here.

ii. It need not be white in the Shirt.

iii. He need not have educational qualifications.

Grammar Index : 2
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