What is Modal Auxiliaries? Modal Auxiliaries Verbs Definition and Example Sentences

What is Modal Auxiliaries? Modal Auxiliaries Verbs Definition and Example Sentences

Modal Auxiliaries

 What Are Modal Auxiliaries?

Auxiliary verbs are a type of modal verb. They make it easier to indicate potential, anticipation, permission, capacity, possibility, and duty with the primary verb.

Modal verbs do not finish in -s for the third-person singular when used with the main verb. The form of a modal auxiliary verb does not change, but the past tense has a different form.


Present TensePast Tense
Must (have to)(Had to)
Should (ought to) (had better)Should (ought to)


Will – Would

The word “will” denote a desire to do something in the future. The negative version of “will – will not (won’t)” denotes a lack of willingness to accomplish something (refusal, reluctance).

  • I will give you another chance.
  • I will play with you tomorrow.
  • They will arrive at 9 AM.
  • She won’t come to the class today.


“Would” denotes prior broad or recurring willingness. It also expresses a current preference.

  • If you did not give up, I would be proud of you so much.
  • Whenever I had to go anywhere with her, she would send photos to her ex.
  • We thought that people would buy this phone.
  • If I were you, I would not do this.


Can – Could – May – Might

These modals convey the concepts of possibility and capacity.

The word “can” denotes capability. “Could” denotes a capability with a choice.

  • He can do it. (The subject ‘He’ is sure about his ability)
  • He could do it. (The subject ‘He’ is not sure about his ability)
  • We cannot do it. (present)
  • We could not do it. (past)


“Can & could” also indicate possibility.

  • The temperature can get low this month.
  • She can’t go too far by now.
  • It could snow later.


“May” and “might” both convey the potential of something, but “might” can imply that it is less likely than “may.”

  • It may snow later.
  • It might snow later.
  • She may come back tomorrow.
  • She might come back tomorrow.



“Must” indicates necessity.

  • We must leave to catch the bus now.
  • He must study hard for his finals.
  • Ally must go home by 7.00 pm.


“Have to” is comparable to “must,” but it conveys a lower level of urgency.

  • I have to leave right now.
  • He has to study hard for his finals.
  • Ally has to go by 7.00 pm.
  • I had to leave then. (past)
  • He had to study hard to pass his finals. (past)




“Should” indicates obligation and probability.

  • You should come home early today.
  • You should not smoke in the classroom.
  • We should visit my parents more often than usual.
  • There should be an extra key for the lock. (probability)
  • She should have reached. (probability)
  • I should have done that to her mother. (Obligation in the past)


“Should” is occasionally replaced by “ought to” and “had better.”

  • You ought to come home early today.
  • We ought to have taken a car. (Past)
  • We had better leave for now. (Had better is generally used in spoken English.)