Lesson 9: Using Modal Verbs

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Practice by reading the dialogue with your tutor. After you are done, switch roles and do it again!

  • Kevin: I could play the piano really well when I was younger, but since I haven’t played it in years, I’m rusty.
  • Dorothy: You should start practicing again! If you did, would you regain your ability quickly?
  • Kevin: I think I would, but it would take some time. I shouldn’t have stopped taking lessons. I could have been a pro by now!
  • Dorothy: Well, there’s no use thinking about what could have been. You must seize the moment and get started now!


Learning the main modal verbs

Read the diagram below out loud with your tutor. These are the main modal verbs.

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Using the main modal verbs

Read the diagrams below out loud with your tutor. It goes over different ways to use each of the main modal verbs. Come up with your own example sentence for each main modal as you go over them.

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Fill in the blank with the correct modal verb. There may be more multiple correct answers.

  • Could you lend me a pen, please? I forgot mine at home. (polite request)
  • He (1) ___________ go to the party because he’s not feeling well.
  • It (2) __________ be great if you could drop me off at the library.
  • Your brother needs help with his English so you (3) __________ help him.
  • There are lots of dark clouds in the sky. I think it (4)________ rain. (high probability)

Make a sentence using the modal verb.

  • might According to the weather forecast, it might snow tonight. (small chance)
  • will  ______________________________________________________.
  • wouldn’t __________________________________________________.
  • should ___________________________________________________.
  • must  _____________________________________________________.

Make a sentence using the modal verb.

  • mustn’t You mustn’t walk on the floor with your dirty shoes.
  • may  _____________________________________________________.
  • can  ______________________________________________________.
  • shall _____________________________________________________.
  • would ____________________________________________________.

Discussion Questions

  1. If a tourist were to visit your hometown, what should he do and see?
  2. If everyone in the world spoke the same language, do you think the world would be a better place? What would be some pros and some cons?
  3. What advice would you give to your younger self?
  4. What are some things you could do when you were younger but no longer can? What changed?
  5. What are some things that you think may happen in the coming year?

(Image Source: 1. https://ankaralegalenglish.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/modal-verbs.jpg, 2. http://viandregrammar.blogspot.com/2013_10_01_archive.html, 3. https://www.tes.com/lessons/UpOAnsAbEb2gmQ/modal-verbs)

Answer Key:

(1) can’t / won’t / mustn’t / shouldn’t / may not

(2) would

(3) could / should / must / can

(4) may

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