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Unit 18 Modals, phrasal verbs and passive voice
Overview of modals
Modal verbs, semi-modal verbs (also called marginal modals) and other modal expressions are listed in alphabetical order in the table below.
Form Meaning/Function Present/Future Past
be able to general ability I am not able to help you at the moment.
I will probably be able to get there by nine. I was able to swim when I was 5.
\"manage to\" Although the current was strong, I was able to swim to the other bank.
be allowed to general permission Are we allowed to smoke in this restaurant?
Will journalists be allowed to ask questions?
permission + action performed Although I was underage, I was allowed to enter the race.
be bound to probability, certainty Kevin is stuck in a traffic jam, so he is bound to be late.
be due to arrangements The film is due to start at 8 pm. Negotiations were due to take place later that week.
be going to prediction My sister is going to have a baby. The sky was dark; it was going to rain.
intention Do you think Sam's going to apply for the job? I was going to call you, but my battery died.
be likely to probability Smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer compared to non-smokers. He knew that he was likely to be promoted.
be likely that probability It is likely that he will win the race. It was likely that Mrs Hancock would become president.
be to arrangements + action performed Mr Jones was to speak at the meeting.
arrangements + action not performed Mr Jones was to have spoken at the meeting, but he had to cancel because of his illness.
obligation What am I to do?
official arrangements The Prime Minister is to visit India next month.
official orders At the end of the course, all students are to take a written exam.
prohibition You are not to do that again!
can ability Tom can play the piano.
If you ask him, he can probably help you.
criticism You can be really annoying, you know!
offers Can I help you?
permission You can borrow my car if you want.
Can I use your phone?
Students can choose any topic for their project.
possibility Winters in Minnesota can be really cold.
requests Can you lend me $10?
Can I borrow your car?
can't ability We can't enter this street because it's blocked.
deduction It's only 10 o'clock. He can't be at home. It can't have been Carla you saw this morning. She is away on holiday.
prohibition I'm sorry, but you can't stay here.
We can't eat in the library.
could ability I could see him through the window.
criticism George could really help you! George could really have helped you!
uncertainty We haven't heard from him for 10 years. He could have died.
possibility You could be right. I could have caught the bus if I had hurried.
requests Could you tell me where the train station is?
general permission When I was a child, I could do basically anything that I wanted to do.
asking for permission Could I have a glass of water?
offers I could give you a lift.
suggestions You could talk to your parents and ask them.
couldn't possibility The food is delicious and the staff couldn't be more polite. It was a great year, and I couldn't have been happier.
deduction It's only 10 o'clock. He couldn't be at home. It couldn't have been Carla you saw this morning. She is away on holiday.
ability She couldn't speak German then.
I couldn't walk any further.
dare \"have the courage to do something\" How dare she criticise us?
I daren't think how many victims there are.
dare (to) Do you dare (to) tell him what happened to his bike?
Don't you dare interrupt me!
Who dares (to) argue with me? He didn't dare (to) look back.
had better advice We'd better leave soon.
have to necessity, obligation I have to get to work by 9 every day.
You don't have to answer that question.
Do you have to wear a uniform at your school? We had to start all over again.
I didn't have to wait long.
What did you have to do that for?
have got to necessity, obligation I've got to be home soon.
You haven't got to go already, have you?
Has he got to pay in advance?
may possibility, uncertainty You should ask him. He may know Susan's telephone number. I may have told you this before.
permission Children may use the pool with adult supervision.
May I start my presentation?
offers May I carry your suitcase, Madam?
may not prohibition Non-committee members may not vote on committee issues.
possibility, uncertainty You should introduce yourself; he may not remember you. I had better call Anne. She may not have read my e-mail.
might suggestions You might consider taking up meditation.
I thought you might want to read this.
You might just as well order it on the internet.
permission Might I ask you a question?
criticism You might be more polite. You might have told me you weren't coming!
possibility, uncertainty I might see you later. I should call Anne. She might not have read my e-mail.
must deduction That child is really talented. His parents must be proud of him. That dress looks expensive. It must have cost a fortune.
obligation I really must give up smoking.
You must keep this secret.
mustn't prohibition You mustn't touch that Ming vase.
need necessity, obligation You needn't worry about that.
You need only just ask.
Need you make so much noise? We needn't have bought any milk. We still have plenty at home.
need to necessity, obligation Do you have a minute? I need to talk to you about something.
I don't need to be told that I should lose weight.
Do you need to use the hairdryer?
If you want good results, you will need to work harder. I needed to have my hair cut.
Why did they need to change the lock?
We didn't need to buy any milk. We had plenty at home.
ought to advice You ought to thank her.
obligation We ought to protect the environment. You ought to have told me earlier. Why didn't you tell me?
assumption Anne ought to be at home by now.
shall formal rules and regulations, commands Visitors shall be accompanied at all times by a security guard.
You shall not kill.
offers Shall I copy this document for you?
suggestions Shall we throw a party sometime next week?
should advice You should smoke less.
surprise I'm sorry that he should feel that way. It's surprising that she should have said that.
criticism You shouldn't be sitting here just doing nothing! I should have booked a table in advance.
obligation I think you should leave. You should have consulted a doctor.
assumption I should get back before 9.
I have never tried setting up a website, but it shouldn't be too difficult. The plane should have landed by now.
suggestions Shouldn't we have a pizza instead?
used to past habits and states On Sundays, my parents used to take me to dance school.
I didn't use to like dancing in those days.
will willingness I will take you to the airport. I have nothing to do tomorrow.
If you will wait for a moment, I'll see if Mr Hawking is available.
requests Will you turn off your mobile phone, please?
assumption \"The phone's ringing.\" \"That'll be for me.\