Modal and Auxiliaries

“Writers should learn to properly use auxiliary modal verbs.”

 

Auxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs.

I am working = Working is the main verb. Am is the auxiliary.

She has arrived = Arrived is the main verb. Has is the auxiliary.

Do you drive? = Drive is the main verb. Do is the auxiliary.

 

Auxiliary verbs come before the main verb (lexical verb) in a sentence. They determine moodtense, or aspect of another verb the sentence. Together the helping verb and the main verb form a verb phrase. 

 

Primary Auxiliaries
Do
Be
Have

 

Modal Auxiliaries
May
Might
Must
Can
Should
Shall
Will
Would
Used to

 

Semi-Modal
Ought
Had better
Dare
Need

 

 

 

Modal Auxilliary Verbs

Probability

First, they can be used when we want to say how sure we are that something happened / is happening / will happen. We often call these ‘modals of deduction’ or ‘speculation’ or ‘certainty’ or ‘probability’.

More about probability

 

Ability

We use ‘can’ and ‘could’ to talk about a skill or ability.

More about ability

 

Obligation and Advice

We can use verbs such as ‘must’ or ‘should’ to say when something is necessary or unnecessary, or to give advice.

More about obligation

 

Permission

We can use verbs such as ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘may’ to ask for and give permission. We also use modal verbs to say something is not allowed.

 

Habits

We can use ‘will’ and ‘would’ to talk about habits or things we usually do, or did in the past.

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