CBSE English Grammar


What are modals?

The verbs like- can, could, may, might, will, shall, etc that are used with other verbs to express permission, possibility, certainity, necessity, etc are called modals.


1. Can

(a) It is used to express ability and capacity.

For ex- I can do it.-She can write with both hands.(b) It also express permission.Ex- Can I borrow your pen?

(c) It convey possibility in interrogative and negative sentences.

Ex- Can this be true?It cannot be true?

=Could – ( past tense of can)

Ex- How could he find out?

I wish you could hear yourself talking.

2. May-

(a) It is used for taking permission.

Ex-  May I borrow your pen?

May I ask you a few questions?

May I sit with you?

 (b) It express possibility in affirmative sentences.

Ex- He may be at home.

He may stay here tonight.

It may rain today.

(c) It also express wish.

Ex- May god bless you.

May you get well soon.

May the kingdom of Heaven be his!

Might– ( past of may)

                  It is used for less possibility.

Ex- I thought he might be at home.

might see you tomorrow.

 It looks nice, but it might be very expensive.

3. Was /were able to-

It is used for performance.

Ex- He was able to swim across the river.

They were able to swim across the river.

  • In negative.

Ex- I wasn’t be able to solve the problem.

4. Shall-

(a)  It is used with 1st person ( I, we, us).

Ex- when shall we see you again?

I shall be there by 8:00.

(b) It is sometimes used with 2nd or 3rd person to express                            

                  command, promise, threat.

Ex- He shall not enter in my house again.

He shall become our next king.

   (c) It is also used to ask questions.

Ex- Shall I open the door?

Shall I help you?

Shall we begin dinner?

5. Will-

  • When someone is willing to.

Ex-I will carry your bag.

will lead you to it.


  • To express characteristic habit.

Ex- He will always listen the song at night.

  • Express assumption or probability.

Ex- This will be book you want, I suppose.

Things will get better.

One day he will know.

= should/ would-( past of shall/will)

( a) It explicit duty or obligations.

Ex- you should obey the law.

(b) It express opinion.

Ex- they would be on the way to turkey.

That would be the best way


( c) To give or take advice and suggestion.

Ex- you should study more.

6. Must

(a) It express necessity or obligations.

Ex- you must get up early.

We must not be late.

(b) In the case of prohibition.

Ex- you must not drink and drive.


7. Have to/ Has to/ Had to/strong

  • It explicit rules and laws.

Ex- You have to attend the class.

  • Have to is used with infinitive to indicate obligations.

Ex- I have to be there by 5’o clock.

  • In negative and questions, have to and had to are used with do, does and did.

Ex- They don’t have to go.

Do they have to go?

8. Ought to


  • Express moral obligation or duty.

Ex – we ought to help our friends.

  • To give advice.

Ex- you ought to study hard to achieve success.

9. Used to-

It is used as a discontinued habit or past habit which is no more in present.

Ex- He used to drink daily.

This used to be a dense jungle.

Reported Speech (Prev Lesson)
Back to CBSE English Grammar
Send Message To Edu Spot