Auxiliaries words English Grade 4 Learning Concepts | Orchids
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Concept: Words like should, can, could, might, etc.

What are Modal Auxiliaries?

  • It is used to change the meaning of other verbs (known as main verbs).
  • Modal auxiliaries are simply called a modal verb or just modal.
  • Words like ‘be,have, and do’are basic forms ofauxiliaries.
  • They are used for forming tensesand question statements.
  • Modal auxiliaries are as follows: can,could,may,might must,ought to,shall,will,would,and need.

List of Modal Auxiliaries and Their Purpose:

Each modal auxiliary has a purpose it serves in a sentence. With every usage you will notice these words point towards a meaning. This meaning is called as purposeof the auxiliary.

1) Will

‘Will’means when a future action can take place or when a promising statement is made.


a) I will allow you to play tomorrow.

b) I will make sure that everything will be ordered by the day after tomorrow.

2) Would

The modal auxiliary‘would’is used as a past form of the word ‘will’.. It is used to express requests and preferences. It is also used to politely offer or ask for advice or as opinion in question statements.


a) If I were you, Iwould never do it.

b) Would you like to make an omelette?

c) No, I would prefer a hardboiled eggs.

3) Can

‘Can’ is the most often used to express a person’s ability to do something. This modal auxiliaryexpressespossibility and ability. It also expresses permission to do something.


a) I can do it.

b) I can wait here.

4) Could

‘Could’ is the most often used as a past tense version of the word ‘can’. Indicating that someone or something was able to do an action in the past. It is used to express uncertain possibility or a polite request.


a) I wish I could visit again.

b) How could he do this?

5) May

‘May’ is used to make a request, to grant permission,to express a wish or desire that something may happen in the future.


a) The shop may be open.

b) They may come early.

6) Might

The modal verb might oftenused to express a possibility. Might be a formal and polite wayto make suggestion.


a) The shop might be open.

b) They might come early.

c) My dog might be in the house.

7) Must

The modal verb must be used to express necessity.It expresses a strong intention to do in the future. ‘Must’ can be used to indicate that something is certain or true.


a) He must study hard.

b) She must return home by 7 pm.

8) Should

The modal verb should be used to politely express obligations or duties. Modal verb ‘should’ could be used for advice,suggestions, obligation, and probability.


a) You should come home early.

b) I should have finished it yesterday. (obligation in the past)

c) Should I finish my homework now?

9) Shall

The modal auxiliaryshall be used in many ways. It is used to form the future tense and to make requests or offers.Using the word makes them politeor makes the sentence formal.


a) I shall play with them.

b) I shallbring some snacks in the evening.

Common Errors

  1. Using infinitive instead of a base verb after a modal auxiliary. Infinitives can be used in a sentence but it never replaces the main verb in the sentence.
  2. a) I could to move this heavy cupboard.

    b) I can move this heavy cupboard.

  3. Using two modal auxiliaries together in a sentence. Auilaries serves a purpose every time it is used in a sentence. When you use an auxiliary, there can be only one purpose it serves hence we can use only one auxiliary at a time.
  4. a) I should must renew my passport.

    b) I must renew my passport.

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