Auxiliary Verb Modal Can Could

Auxiliary Verb Modal Can Could

Auxiliary Modal

Auxiliary Verb Modal Can Could

       Auxiliary verbs always precede main verbs within a verb phrase. Auxiliaries are also known as helping verbs because they are needed to form many of the tenses. The words can be said as auxiliary if there is main verb in a sentence. The most word used as auxiliary verbs are to be, to do, to have and modals. And Insya Allah I will share all kinds of auxiliaries in some posting. (Also read : Pattern and usage of Simple Past Tense)

In this occasion, I want to share about Auxiliary Verb Modal can could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will and would.

First of all, what does MODAL mean?

modal = expressing mood.

mood = a way to express the attitude of the speaker to what is being said.


I can sing” means the speaker believes he has the ability to sing.

I might sing” means the speaker believes there is a possibility to sing.

I will sing” means the speaker has the intention to sing.

The auxiliary Modals are:

can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will and would

The pattern of sentence using auxiliary modals:

( + )  Subject + modal + infinitive (verb 1) + Complement


She can sing a song.

They will stay here.

Paul should go to Surabaya.

( – )  Subject + modal + not + infinitive (verb 1) + Complement


She cannot sing a song.

They will not stay here.

Paul should not go to Surabaya.

( ? ) Modal + Subject + infinitive (verb 1) + Complement


Can she sing a song?

Will they stay here?

Should Paul go to Surabaya?

      Remember that we should add infinitive (verb 1) after auxiliary modals. We don’t add “-ing“, “-ed“or “-s” to them.


Correct: “We must go now.

Incorrect: “We are musting go now.”

Correct: “They said we could park here.

Incorrect: “They said we coulded park here.”

Correct: “She can help us.

Incorrect: “She cans help us.

Usage of Auxiliary Modals

  1. Can

a.   To talk about what you are able to do 

“He is so strong! He can lift that car!”

“She can’t come before four o’clock.”

b.   To talk about a general possibility

“The weather here can get really bad.”

“These chairs can be folded.”

“Such things can happen.”

(Also read other article at : Ungkapan untuk meminta Perhatian)

c.   To say that something is allowed

“He can borrow my book if he needs it.”

“You can’t smoke in here”.

“You can pay with a credit card.”

d.   To make a request (an informal use, “may” is the formal version)

“Can you help me with my homework?”

“Can you make some tea?”

“Can you come here, please?”

  1. could

a.   As the past form of “can”

“He said he couldn’t come so early.”

“I couldn’t remember who he was.”

“They couldn’t pass the border.”

b.   To make a polite request

“Could you open the window, please?”

“Could you turn up the heat?”

“Could you remind him to call?”

c.   To show possibility (“may” and “might” are stronger)

“She could be with her parents.”

“It could take you months to find a new place.”

“He could still win, but it’s not very likely.”

  1. may

a.   To show possibility (it is slightly stronger than “might”)

“What he said may be true.”

“It may rain.”

“You may win the race.”

b.   To request or give permission(this is a formal use, “can” is the informal version)

“You may sit down.”

“May I speak?”

“He may not use the car.”

  1. Might

a.   As a past from of “may”

“The weatherman said it might rain.”

“She mentioned that she might come.”

“We agreed that it might be dangerous.”

b.   To show possibility (it is slightly weaker than “may”)

“He might pass the exam, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

“We might fail, but let’s not think about it.”

“I might visit on Saturday.”

(Also read other article at : True Friend Teaches Meaningful Life)

  1. Must

a.   To show that you have to do something, for example because it is very important or because it is a rule

“You must stop the car when the traffic light turns red.”

“You must pay your taxes.”

“She must stop drinking if she wants to keep her job.”

“I must go now, otherwise I will miss my train.”

b.   “Must not” (or “mustn’t”) is used to show you are not allowed to do something

“You mustn’t steal.”

“He mustn’t talk to his parents like that.”

“The fruit of this bush must not be eaten because it is toxic.”

c.   To show that something is very logical or very likely to be true

“He left at noon, so he must be there already.”

“She is not stupid, so she must have known what she was doing!”

“They must be really rich to live in such a house.”

  1. Ought to

To say what is the right thing to do (“should” is the more common word)

“In her condition, she ought to quit smoking.”

“I believe you ought to apologize.”

“He was watching TV when he ought to have been studying.”

  1. Shall

a.   Used with “I” and “we” to talk about the future (especially in formal British English)

“I shall leave tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll never forget you.”

“We shall overcome.”

“I shan’t be late again.”

b.   Used with “I” and “we” to ask questions or make suggestions

“Shall I close the door?”

“What shall we do tonight?”

“Let’s start, shall we?”

  1. Should

a.   To say what is the right thing to do

“You should be helping your mother.”

“If he doesn’t like the job, he should tell it to his boss.”

“If you knew you were going to be so late, you should have called.”

b.   To give advice or ask for advice

“You should try the new restaurant down the street.”

“What should I do? Should I tell him the truth?”

“Should I try to take the exam again?”

c.   To show that something is likely to be true or that it is expected

“Let’s return home, dinner should be ready by now.”

“We should arrive there by twelve o’clock.”

“I should get an e-mail from him soon.”

  1. Will

a.   To talk about future actions or future states (not plans)

“I hope he will pass his exams.”

“She’ll be very happy to hear this.”

“They will not be here on time.”

“You won’t feel a thing.”

b.   For promises or intentions

“Leave it, I will do the dishes.”

“It must be Joe at the door, so I’ll get it.”

“I won’t do that again, I promise.”

  1. Would

a.   As the past form of “will” in reported speech

“I will handle it myself.” –> “He said he would handle it himself.”

“I won’t be late.” –> “He said he wouldn’t be late.”

“She’ll change her mind in the end.” –> “He said she’d change her mind in the end.”

b.   To talk about an imagined situation

“What would you do if you were a millionaire?”

“I wish he’d take a break.”

“I would have cleaned the house, but I was too tired.”

c.   To make a polite request

“Would you mind closing the window?”

“Would you get me the paper, please?”

“Would someone please answer the phone?”

d.   To invite someone, or offer something, politely

“Would you like a drink?”

“We are going for a walk, would you like to join us?”

“Would you like to meet her?”

e.   To say that you want something or want to do something

I would like = a polite way of saying, “I want.”

I would hate = a polite way of saying, “I don’t want.”

I would rather = a polite way of saying, “I prefer.”

“I would like a cup of coffee, please.”

“I would hate to miss this opportunity.”

“We’d rather study with you.”

“Would you like to come with us?”

“I’d love to, but I can’t.”

      That’s all about Auxiliary Verb Modal can could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will and would. Insya Allah on the next post I will share another Auxiliary Modals. (Also read other article at : Soal IPA Perkembangbiakan Makhluk Hidup)

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