Modal verbs are a small group of verbs which convey the speaker's opinion about or attitude towards what is being expressed. Modal verbs include ‘could', ‘should', ‘might' and ‘may'.

Example
The modal verb ‘must' can express a speaker's sense of obligation - ‘I really must finish that project' - and how probable a speaker thinks something is - ‘You must be feeling awful'.

In the classroom
Modal verbs are problematic for learners for various reasons. They can have various uses and irregular negative and past forms. For example, the past of ‘must' depends on its function and can be either ‘had to' or ‘must have'. Exploring examples of the use of modal verbs from authentic texts will help learners build their confidence in using them.

Further links:

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/class-secrets-modals-possibility

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/choosing-a-school

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.