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Modal Verb Meaning Expressing Example

I must stop when the traffic


to have to 100 % obligation
lights turn red.
must
logical conclusion He must be very tired after
to be very probable
(deduction) such enormous work
You must not smoke in the
must not not to be allowed to prohibition
hospital.
to be able to ability I can swim
can to be allowed to permission Can I use your phone please?
it is possible possibility Smoking can cause cancer !
When I was younger I could
to be able to ability in the past stay up all night and not get
tired..
could more polite Excuse me, could I just say
to be allowed to
permission something?
it is possible possibility It could rain tomorrow!
to be allowed to permission May I use your phone please?
may possibility,
it is possible, probable It may rain tomorrow!
probability
more polite
to be allowed to Might I use your phone please?
permission
might I might come and visit you in
weak possibility,
it is possible, probable America next year, if I can
probability
save enough money.
need necessary necessity Need I say more?
lack of necessity/
I need not buy any tomatoes.
need not not necessary absence of
There are plenty in the fridge.
obligation
used to say or ask I should / ought to see a
what is the correct or 50 % obligation doctor. I have a terrible
best thing to do headache.
should/ to suggest an action or
You should / ought to revise
to show that it is advice
your lessons
ought to necessary
He should / ought to be very
logical conclusion
to be very probable tired after such enormous
(deduction)
work
to suggest an action or
You 'd better revise your
had better to show that it is advice
lessons
necessary

Modal verbs are followed by an infinitive without "to"