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Michigan TIPS, Issue #012 Modal Verbs
May 13, 2009

Modal Verbs

Welcome to another issue of Michigan TIPS. The only e-zine on the NET that gives you practical advice and useful exercises for success on your Michigan exams.

Today, I want to talk to you about modal verbs. I've seen students struggle with this particular grammar item in the past and I want to help make things as clear as possible for those who are taking their Michigan Proficiency exam this weekend.

First off, I wish good luck and great success to all of you!

If you haven't seen it before, you might want to check out the last minute test advice I give in a previous Michigan TIPS. Just go to the sign up page and the back issue links are at the bottom of that page.

Secondly, I've got good news in case you missed it in the previous Michigan TIPS. I've included a whole bunch of fun modal verb exercises on my new site Advanced English Grammar.

If you click on the link above you'll go to the new site and you can easily find the exercises from the menu at the left of the page.

Now, let's get on with the Modal Verbs!

Main Points To Remember

A. Modals come first in a verb group.
B. All modals (except ought) are followed by the base form of the verb.
C. Ought is followed by a to infinitive.
D. Modals have only one form - they don't change from first, to second, to third person like other verbs.

A. Modals are always the first word in a verb group.

I should go visit them.
I think it will be rather boring.
Things could have been so different.

B. All modals except for ought are followed by the base form of a verb.

I should go visit them.
I think it will rain tomorrow.
Things could have been better.
Someone may have seen them.
They might be home tomorrow.
They may be late.
They should have known.
He can come by anytime.

C. Ought is always followed by a to-infinitive.

She ought to go out with Tom.
Sam ought to have taken his medicine.
You ought to be doing this, not me.

D. There is no s form for the third person singular of the present tense modal verbs. Also, there is no -ing or -ed forms.

She can't help him now.
I'm sure he can do it tomorrow.
She ought to have called him yesterday.

** Important Notes **

Modals usually do NOT indicate the time something happens. Shall and will, however, can often indicate a future event or situation.

I shall do whatever you suggest.
He will not be back for a few days.

Could is used as the past form of can to express ability.

When I was young, I could run really fast.

Would is used as the past form of will to express the future.

She remembered that she would be seeing him the next day.

Sometimes (especially when spoken) shall and will are shortened to 'll and would to 'd and then added to a pronoun.

Ill see you on Monday.
I thought shed agree to go out with me.


The above gives you a taste of what you'll find on the Advanced English Grammar site. You'll find plenty of other exercises including phrasal verbs and prepositions with more exercises on the way.

If you like the site and the exercises do me a favor and save it in Facebook or any of the other social bookmark tools. Don't forget to bookmark it!


Teaching + Inspiration + Practice = Success

Good learning everyone!

Till next time...



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