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14 / 06 / 2004

REVIEW OF MODAL VERBS-1: meaning and examples

Good morning. I hope you had a relaxing weekend!

Last week one of our loyal Daily Vitamin recipients, Mary Rose, suggested that we review modal verbs (must, may, should, etc.). Therefore, today we will begin the first in a series of Daily Vitamins that have the objective of reviewing modal verbs. Thanks for the suggestion Mary Rose! I hope all of you find this revision helpful.

First, what are modal verbs? Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verb that combine with an infinitive verb to add an additional "mode" or "attitude" to the main verb. Notice the difference between the following two sentences:

Example 1
I go to work every Monday through Friday.

Example 2
I must go to work every Monday through Friday.

In Example 1, the speaker makes a statement that indicates that he or she goes to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

In Example 2, however, the speaker indicates that he/she is obligated to go to work each weekday. The modal verb must has added a very important additional meaning or attitude to the main verb go; the attitude of obligation. An equivalent sentence for Example 2 would be "I'm obligated to go to work every Monday through Friday."

Notice that this one-word modal verb combines with the bare infinitive (go) without the particle to. We NEVER include the particle to after a modal verb…Never! So, we mustn't say ***"I must to go to work…"*** This is a very common error, so remember! The modals always combine with the bare infinitive (without the particle to)... Always!

We have a lot to cover over the next several days, but for now you should be sure that you understand these basic concepts before we continue. If you have any questions so far, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Have a great day!