Inicio > Recursos Inglés > REVISION OF MODAL VERBS-1


19 / 10 / 2006

REVISION OF MODAL VERBS-1: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Yesterday we received the following suggestion from a Ziggurat student and Daily Vitamin user:

Hello Matthew. Is it possible for you to explain in a DV the different uses of the modal verbs: can, must, may and might? Thank you and best regards. (Ignasi V.)

In the year 2004 we did a series on modal verbs, so we're going to recycle them for the next 3 or 4 days. Today's Daily Vitamin was originally sent on June 14th, 2004.


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 few 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 post them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

I hope you have a good day.