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Unit 11 modals and related verbs 1


 Modal verbs: form A

 Modal verbs are can, could, will, would, may, might, shall, should and must

Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive without to.


 Modal verbs have only one form. So there is no -s in the third person singular and there are no verb tenses with -ing, -ed, etc.


 Questions are made by putting the modal in front of the subject. Negatives are made by putting not immediately after the modal (often shortened to -nt in spoken English and informal written English).


Can I...? Could!...? Will I...? Would I...? Must I...?


I cannot (cant)

I could not (couldnt) I will not (wont)

I would not (wouldnt)

I must not (mustnt)


May I...? Might I...? Shall I...? Should I...?


I may not

I might not

I shall not (shant) I should not (shouldnt)


 Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs - they are used with other main verbs. Two modal verbs cannot be put together.


 Modal verbs have no infinitive form. Instead, we use other expressions like

be able to (for can), have to (for must) and be likely to (for might).


Id like to be able to speak better French. (NOT Id like to can speak)


 Modal verbs show the speakers attitude or feelings about a situation. For example, how probable or necessary something is, or that the speaker is offering or requesting something.


 The same modal verb can be used in different ways and with different meanings. You only know the meaning from the situation. For example, could:

I could get to work in 30 minutes in my last job. (ability: past time) Could you pass the salt, please? (request: present time) That could be difficult. (uncertainty: future time)


 Ability B


 talk about ability we use can and cant (or cannot in formal writing).

We can get that information from the Net.

Can you deliver in two weeks? - No, we cant.



We share out the profits equally.

(= divide between people)

 Cant is used for all things that we are not able to do.

I cant speak German.


For the special case of things that are prohibited (not allowed) by rules or laws we can also use mustnt.

Im sorry, you cant/mustnt smoke in this area.


 We sometimes use be able/unable to instead of can. They are common in writing.

For the first time in years we are now able to generate growth internally, not just through acquisitions.


 Past ability C


 To talk about general past ability (not limited to one occasion) we use could.


I could speak French quite well when I was at school.


 To talk about one specific past action we use was/were able to and managed to.

I was able to/managed to install the new software quite easily. Congress managed to run through about $900 billion of the budget surplus in the three months or so leading up to this election; think of what it might do in two years.


But to talk about a specific past action with a verb of the senses (see, feel, hear, understand) we can use could.

I could/was able to/managed to understand most of what he said.


 In negative sentences and questions we can use could, was/were able to and

managed to.

Could you/Were you able to/Did you manage to deal with the problem?


 Will and willingness D


 Will is an auxiliary verb used to refer to the future. But will also has modal uses that can refer to the present or the future.


 Will can be used for instant comments made at the moment of speaking.

I think Ill go home now. (a spontaneous decision)

Ill give you a lift to the station. (an offer of help)

Ill give you my full support in the meeting. (a promise)

Ill have the roast lamb. (ordering food)


Will can also be used in questions to make a request or offer something.



Ill just work out the prices for you.

(= calculate)

Will you hold the lift for me, please? Will you have some more coffie?

(a request)

(offering something)


../ In many of these examples where will refers to the present it expresses the idea of 'willingness'.



We're trying to sort out the problem now.

(=put it right)




Exercise 1 (A)

Underline the correct words.


1 Do you can / Can you come to the meeting next week?

2 I can come / I can to come to the meeting next week.

3 I wont cant / be able to come to the meeting next week.

4 Sorry that I didnt could / I couldnt come to the meeting last week.

5 Sorry that I wasnt able to / I wasnt able come to the meeting last week.

6 Do you will / Will you show me how to log on to the network?

7 What we can do / can we do?

8 I hope to can / to be able to fly directly to Dusseldorf.

9 I must speak / I must to speak with Mr Reiner as soon as possible.

10 I managed to / I could speak to Mr Reiner yesterday.

11 The hotel was OK, but / managed to / I could hear a lot of noise from the street

12 I managed to / I could take a boat trip on Lake Leman when I was in Geneva.


Exercise 2 (A, B, C)

Complete the sentences with can, cant, could, couldnt or be able to.


1 Im afraid I .. help you at the moment.

2 I dont think Ill .. come to the meeting.

3 The negotiations broke down because we .. agree on the price.

4 I .. see you were having problems, so I didnt interrupt.

5 If you .. make a firm order today, we should .. ship by Friday.

6 I find Portuguese very difficult. I .. understand it, but I .. speak it.

7 Sorry, I .. see you next week, but I might .. make the week after.

8 A: Will you .. go to the training seminar?

B: No, I .. Im busy.

9 Im sorry I .. come to your talk yesterday. I had to sort out a problem.

10 I .. ski really well when I was in my twenties, but now Im out of practice.



Theyll cut off my electricity if I dont pay this bill.

(= stop supplying)

Exercise 3 (D unit 7)

Match sentences 1-8 with their uses of will.


a) a future fact

e) a promise

b) a belief or opinion about the future

f) ordering food

c) an instant decision

g) a request

d) an offer of help

h) offering something

1 I think sales will probably improve in the spring.

2 Ill give you a hand with your bags.

3 Will you give me a hand with these bags?

4 OK, Ill phone them right now.

5 Ill have the pan-fried fish.

6 Ill be there at six oclock. Dont worry, I wont be late.

7 In the spring well have two new products ready to launch.

8 Will you have another glass of wine?


Exercise 4 (B, D unit 14)

Complete the telephone conversation using phrases from the list below.


can you send

cant see

could you speak

Ill be on

can I call you

could I speak to

could you tell me

Ill just go

can you hear

could you hold

Ill need

Ill wait

can I help you

could you repeat

Ill put one

Ill put you through

Ill get back to you


Jon: Good morning, the Tech Store, this is Jon speaking. Sara: (1) .. someone in Customer Services, please?

Jon: Er. Yes, of course. (2) .. .

* * * * *

Mark: Customer Services, Mark speaking, how (3) .. ?

Sara: Im calling about your new Samsung DVD players. (4) .. if you have any in stock?

Mark: (5) .. and see. (6) .. the line please?

Sara: Yes, no problem, (7) .. .

* * * * *

Mark: Hello? I (8) .. any on the shelves. (9) .. to check the order status on

the computer. (10) .. back?

Sara: Certainly. My name is Sara Hall and my telephone number is 0582 1067. Mark: Sorry, (11) .. up? Its a terrible line.

Sara: Is that better? (12) .. Me now?

Mark: Yes, thats much better. (13) .. the number please?

Sara: Of course. Its 0582 1067. (14) .. this number all morning.

Mark: Sorry, I cant tell you if weve got any DVDs in stock right now, but

(15) .. as soon as I have the information. Was there anything else? Sara: Er, yes, (16) .. me a copy of your latest catalogue?

Mark: Of course, (17) .. in the post to you today. Whats your address? Sara: Its 25 Ridley Lane, Lower



It looks cold outside; Ill put my coat on.

(= wear)

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