What is a modal verb?

A modal verb is a type of helping verb that is used to express ability, possibility, permission or request for permission, obligation, necessity, certainty, advice, expectation or future action.

Some examples of modal verbs are: can, could, would, must, shall, might, will and ought to.

Have a look at the following sentences:

Sandra can speak Spanish.  The modal verb can shows ability.

He might be able to come to dinner tonight.  The modal verb might shows possibility.

You may play a game after you help tidy up.  The modal verb may shows permission.

I must finish my homework on time.  The modal verb must shows necessity.

They should bring their raincoats.  The modal verb should shows advice.

We should be finished by midnight.  The modal verb should shows expectation.

I will be dancing in the ballet.  The modal verb will shows future action.

I would go if I wasn't working.  The modal verb would shows what would happen under a certain condition.


For this set of activities, see if you can choose the best modal verb to complete the sentences.


Max ______ go to the doctor to treat his wound.

should / may

The best modal verb is should.