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The World of Modal Auxiliary Verbs: An Introduction

Updated on 30 May 2020
6 min read 4 views
Updated on 30 May 2020

As promised, we are back with our new English lesson on Modal Auxiliary Verbs. In the previous lesson, we learned about auxiliary verbs, their types and their usage.

Today we will focus on the modal verbs and their different types. In our lessons to come, the types of modal auxiliary verbs will be covered in detail.

So what is a modal verb?

Going by the definition, a modal happens to be a type of auxiliary (helping) verb used for expressing: capability, possibility, consent or obligation. Modal phrases, also known as the semi-modals are often used for expressing similar things as modals, but they are used as combination of auxiliary verbs along with the preposition to.

The modals and semi-modals used in English language are:

  1. Will/ Would
  2. Can/could/be able to
  3. Shall/should
  4. May/might
  5. Must/have to

The Usage

The words as mentioned above are even used as helping verbs or auxiliary verbs. When used as helping auxiliary verbs, these words are generally used in combination with the main verbs in order to convey the shades of time as well as the mood.

This conjunction of the helping verbs and the main verbs is known as the verb phrase or the verb string. Let’s understand this with the help of an example as given below:

Coming July, we will have been married for 7 years.

In this sentence, ‘will have been’ is the auxiliary verb while ‘married’ is the main verb.

Another important thing to remember is that the adverbs and the contracted forms of verbs are not part of the verb.

For instance, in the sentence ‘She informed us timely’; you can see how ‘timely’ had modified the verb ‘informed’. But it has to be noted that timely here is not a part of the main verb.

Another important thing to understand here is that the auxiliary verbs, ‘Shall’, ‘Will’ and forms of ‘Have’, ‘Be’ and ‘Do’ merge with main verbs to point out time and voice. As auxiliaries, they can change their forms to indicate changes in the subject and time.

Let’s consider a few examples to understand this well.

a. I shall sleep now.

b. They had left the town.

c. We did water the plants.

d. They are coming to our place.

e. He has been working on that play for a long time.

Now that you have understood the basic things about modal verbs, in the next lesson we will cover the different types and their usage. Stay tuned!

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