No more mistakes with MODALS! 3 Easy Rules
In this lesson you'll learn how to use modal verbs properly, and how to avoid making the
most common mistakes that students sometimes make when using these special helping verbs.
Now, even though modal verbs doesn't sound that exciting, when you see what they are
you'll realize that we use these verbs all the time, and so you need to know how to use
So, let's look at what modal verbs are.
So, these are words that express different kinds of things.
For example, they might express ability, possibility, permission, obligation. Okay?
And some other things like that.
And they behave differently from regular verbs, and that's why they're sometimes a little
But let's look at some examples of what modal verbs are.
"Can", "could", "may", "might", "should", "ought to", "must", "have to", "will", "shall",
These are the most common ones.
So, I'm going to give you now three basic rules that you can follow to avoid most of
the mistakes that are usually made with the modal verbs. Okay?
So, first of all, make sure to use the modal verb as is.
That means don't change it in the present, or the past, or the future.
For example, we can say: "He can swim."
It would be wrong to say: "He cans swim."
Because, here, the student put an extra "s" there.
And we don't need to change that modal verb ever.
Second, use the base form of the verb after a modal.
For example, you should say: "He might join us."
This is a really common error, so make sure you don't make this one.
So don't use the full infinitive to join after a word like "might".
Just use the base form of the verb, which is: "join".
"He might join us.", "He could join us.", "He should join us.", "He must join us." and
Now, the next point is if you need to, say, use the modal verb in the negative form, then
just use "not" after the modal.
Don't add any extra words most the time; there's one little exception, I'll explain that to
you, but for most of them, don't use words like: "don't", or "doesn't", or "isn't", "aren't",
So, with most of these modal verbs just say "not".
For example: "You should not smoke."
Not: "You don't should smoke."
So, here the student knows and learned all these lovely words: "don't", "doesn't", "isn't",
"aren't", all that and try to use it when using the modal verb, but that's wrong.
So, the only exception is with the verb...
With the modal verb "have to", there if you want to make it negative, you need to say:
"You don't have to do this", okay?
But with the other ones, we just say: "You cannot", "You could not", "You may not", "You
might not", "You should not", "You ought not to", okay?
So there you have to be careful where to place it.
"You must not", this one I told you is an exception.
"You will not", "You shall not", and "You would not".
And the other thing to keep in mind when you're using this word and "not", this is a really
common mistake, so the important thing to remember: This actually becomes one word.
You say: "cannot", but it's actually one word.
Most of the time, almost always "not" is a separate word with all of the modal verbs.
With "can" it actually becomes one word: "I cannot arrive"-okay?-"on time", like that.
So, now that you've got these basic rules and you've understood how it works, let's
do some practice to see how well you've understood.
Okay, so let's get started with our exercises.
Now, the rules are written at the top just in case you didn't remember them exactly.
First one, remember use it as it is, don't change the modal verb.
Second one, use with the base verb.
Don't use the full infinitive "to" something.
And the last one: Use "not" after the modals when it's negative.
Try to keep those in mind, but most of all let's look at the actual examples and you
tell me what's wrong with them.
There is something wrong with each and every one of these sentences.
Number one: "You must to finish your homework.
You must to finish your homework."
Just say: "You must finish your homework."
Number two: "I don't can drive. I don't can drive."
That's what we said here in the third rule.
That just use "not" when it's negative.
And remember with the word "cannot", it's one word.
Number three: "You should not to smoke.
Okay, again, we want to take out this "to".
The sentence should be: "You should not smoke."
So, again, you don't want to use the "to".
Just use the base form of the verb.
Don't use the full infinitive.
Okay, number four: "We not could call you.
We not could call you", some people say, but it's not right.
It should be: "He might go to sleep."
This was our rule number one, here, at the top.
And the rule was that we don't change anything.
We just say: "He might go to sleep."
Next, number six: "They can to stay with us."
Somebody says very kindly: "They can to stay with us."
It's not grammatically correct.
It should be just: "They can stay.", "They can go.", "They can leave.", "They can come."
So this was our rule number two.
Number seven: "We would not to arrive on time.
We would not to arrive on time."
Again, you want to take out this "to".
And the reason why this keeps happening is because this is the most common mistake.
So that's why I have more of those here for you to review.
"We would not arrive on time."
And the last one: "She wills return soon.
The rule says that the modal verb doesn't change, and here it did get changed, so we
have to take out the "s", and then it will become: "She will return soon."
I know there are a few things to keep in mind, but the more you practice, the better you're
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