To determine the exact meaning and proper use of modal verbs is really essential due to multiple overlapping meanings of certain auxiliaries. For this, standard modal verbs should be identified to express ability, permission, duty, possibility, etc. without confusion. So, let’s see an outline of modal verbs to determine confident use.
Modal verbs for permission and possibility
“May” modal auxiliary verb is the most standard auxiliary verb used to express possibility, and permission compare to others.
For requesting permission
“May” auxiliary is highly preferred modal compare to “could and might” as it is more formal. It is used for both requesting, as well as granting permission.
•May I use your bike for a week, please ?
•You may use my bike on condition that you are not going to ride carelessly.
•Oh, I am so thirsty! May I have a glass of water, please ?
•If you prove that you are responsible now, I will let you to invite your friends on your birthday. But, you may invite only two or three.
For expressing possibility
Must” modal auxiliary is used for greater degree of certainty, but “may” is naturally used to express uncertain possibilities in the near future. Besides, might, can, and could are also uesd, but not as standard as “may”.
•I think you may find yourself in a trouble due to your erratic behavior.
•We may reach there on time for your program.
•Tomorrow is Sunday, and we may go for picnic.
•He is so punctual and he may reach on time.
Here, you should know that “may” is used for not more than 50 percent of the possibility.
To express request
This is the most popular modal auxiliary used for polite request. No doubt, it is widely preferred modal verb compare to “can and could”.
•I haven’t understood it properly. Would you please explain that again ?
•I forgot to collect my luggage. Would you give me details of that bus, please ?
•To keep our environment clean is our moral duty. Would you mind helping us to clean out the park ?
Wherever we use “please” after inverted subject, comma isn’t necessary; but, comma is essential when we use at the end.
“Should” modal auxiliary verb has monopoly over duties, recommendations, advice, and expectations.
•public transport facilities should be accessible, as well as affordable for all citizens.(recommendation)
•A stringent law should be made to control the frequency of accidents.(recommendations)
•Right to information act should be passed immediately to bring transparency in administration.(recommendation)
•You should avoid to eat too much at late night. (advice, suggestion)
•You should keep yourself calm when the situation is tough.(advice, suggestion)
To express duties
•Students should not make noise in the exam hall.(duties)
•Students should show teachers daily assignments.(duties, obligation)
•Citizens should serve for national unity and integrity. (duties, obligation)
•Everyone should take life skill education. (duties)
For expectations and values
•Hope, at least this movie should be entertaining.
•Definitely, he should be in the team for final match.
•He is so lazy. She should be ready in the early morning.
•They should be there before the train arrives.
•Energy should be expensive in near future, considering the rate of consumption.
•We should obey parents.(social values)
•We should respect senior citizens. (cultural values)
•We should speak truth.(humanistic values)
To express ability
Finally, “can” modal auxiliary is universally accepted to express abilities. It is used for all types of abilities.
•I can fluently speak.
•He can swim perfectly anywhere.
•She can sing beautifully.
•I can mediate properly now.
These are some important modal auxiliary verbs frequently used in our daily interactions. Hope, now, you can use them with better comfort after reading the outline of modal verbs carefully.