No more mistakes with MODALS! 3 Easy Rules


Hi. I'm Rebecca from engVid.

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

them correctly. Right? Okay.

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

bit confusing.

But let's look at some examples of what modal verbs are.

"Can", "could", "may", "might", "should", "ought to", "must", "have to", "will", "shall",

and "would". Okay?

These are the most common ones.

All right.

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."

This is a correct sentence.

It would be wrong to say: "He cans swim."

Because, here, the student put an extra "s" there.

All right?

And we don't need to change that modal verb ever.

Okay? All right.

Second, use the base form of the verb after a modal.

Don't use "to".

What do I mean by that?

For example, you should say: "He might join us."

Not: "He might to 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

so on, without "to".

All right? Very good.

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.

All right?

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",

"wasn't", "won't".


So, with most of these modal verbs just say "not".

For example: "You should not smoke."

Not: "You don't should smoke."

All right?

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.


Only in that case.

You don't say...

You say: "cannot", but it's actually one word.

All right?

Most of the time, almost always "not" is a separate word with all of the modal verbs.

But not with "can".

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.


All right.

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."

What's wrong there?

What did the person do wrong?

They added "to". All right?

This was our second rule.


You cannot use "to".

Just say: "You must finish your homework."


That's it.

Number two: "I don't can drive. I don't can drive."

That's wrong.

What should it be?

"I cannot drive."


That's what we said here in the third rule.


That just use "not" when it's negative.

All right?

And remember with the word "cannot", it's one word.

All right.

Number three: "You should not to smoke.

You should not to smoke."

What's wrong there?

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.

What should it be?

"We could not call you."


"not" goes after the modal.

Okay? Not anywhere else.

Next: "He mights go to sleep.

He mights go to sleep."

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."

We never change the modal.


Next, number six: "They can to stay with us."

Somebody says very kindly: "They can to stay with us."

It's a very kind suggestion.

It's not grammatically correct.

Let's make it correct.

What do we need to take out?

This, okay?

It should be just: "They can stay.", "They can go.", "They can leave.", "They can come."


But no "to".

All right?

So this was our rule number two.


All right.

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.

All right?

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.

She wills return soon."


So what's wrong there?

The first rule up here, okay.

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."

which is correct.


I know there are a few things to keep in mind, but the more you practice, the better you're

going to get at it.

So, please go to our website:

There, you can do a quiz on this and you can also watch lots of other wonderful English

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Okay? Thanks for watching. Bye for now.