Modal Auxiliaries



A modal verb is used with another verb to express. The auxiliary verbs which are used to express different kinds of moods as ability, possibility,Obligation, advice, compulsion, wish, permission,  prohibition, necessity , request, offer, and invitation etc. are called Modal Auxiliary Verbs.

E.g:1. I can speak in English.                          (Ability)

  1.   It may rain today.                                  (Possibility)
  2.  You may go now.                                    (Permission)
  3.  We should follow traffic rules.                (Duty)
  4.  You must meet him tomorrow.               (Compulsion)
  5. He might be lost                                     ( speculation )
  6. You should arrive on time every day.      ( Advice )
  7. You must pay your taxes by March 31st ( obligation )

        Important modal Auxiliaries   :

Will, shall, can, may, would, should, could, might, must, ought to, used to, have to, has to,  used to, had to, need, dare.

       Differences Between Primary Auxiliaries and Modal Auxiliaries:

  1. Primary Auxiliaries can be used as main verbs, but modal Auxiliaries cannot be used as main verbs and they must go with main verbs.

E.g:1.  She is a poor girl. (Primary Auxiliaries used as a main verb)

  1.  She will come here tomorrow. (Modal Auxiliaries used with main verb)
  2.  Primary Auxiliaries change according to the number and the person of the subject.

Modal Auxiliaries do not change according to the number and the subject.

E.g:1.  I am going to college.

  1.   She is going to college.
  2.   I have gone there.
  3.   She has gone there.
  4.   I will go there.
  5.   He will go there.
  6.   We can do this.


  1.  SHALL
  2.     Shall’ is used in the first person to express simple futurity.

E.g:       I shall go to Guntur tomorrow.

  1.    We shall discuss the matter with the Principal.
  2.    I shall be twenty next Monday.
  3.    ‘Shall I?’  ‘Shall we’?  is used in requests for orders or advice , offers     suggestions

E.g:    a.  Shall I close the window?   [I.e Do you wish me to close it].

  1.  How shall I cook it?
  2.  Where shall I put this?
  3.  Which one shall I buy?
  4.  Shall I wait for you?
  5.  ‘Shall ‘ in the second and third persons is used to express a command.

E.g:    You shall go at once

He shall carry out my instructions.[He is commanded to carry out my instructions].   ‘Shall’ is also used in the second and third persons to make a promise.

E.g:      a.  You shall have whatever you need.   [ I promise to give whatever you need]

He shall be given a present if he passes this year.

  1.            You shall get a medal, If you stand first
  2.             He shall be promoted to a gazette post.

            ‘shall ‘ in the second  and third persons is also used to make a threat.

E.g:     a.   You shall regret this

  1.  He shall be dismissed for negligence of duty.
  2.  They shall pay for this in due course.
  3.  ‘Shall’ is also used in the second and third persons to express determination.


  1. ‘Used to’ has no present form. The negative  form   is ‘used   not to’ Or ‘didn’t use to’.

2.  The interrogative form is ‘used (you)’ or ‘did (you) use’.

The forms   ‘didn ’t  use todid (he)  use to / didn’t  use  to’ are more informal.

  1. ‘Used to’ expresses a past habit which has been discontinued or a past situation which a        longer exists.

 Eg:  1. He used to play cricket very often but now he is too bus

  1.  He used to drink regularly but now he has given it up.
  2.  We used to bathe in rivers, but now we use bathrooms
  3. There used to be a hotel there, but it has been closed down.
  4.  His hair used to be black; but it is white now
  5. I used to play tennis in my youth.

III.      ‘Used to’ can also denote a past routine, not necessarily discontinued.

    Eg:  1. When we were in Delhi, we used to go to Mr. Rama Rao’s house every evening.

2.We used to watch the Hindi movie on the T.V.



I).  ‘Need’ is used both as a principal verb and as an auxiliary verb. As principal verb it is used in the sense of ‘require’.

E.g:   1.   He needs my help.

He doesn’t need my help.

  1. Does he need my help?
  2.  I didn’t need the money.
  3.  we have got what we needed.
  4.  We need two more players for the team.

II).   As an auxiliary verb, ‘need’ uninflected. (i.e. remains unchanged whatever be the person or number of the subject.)

Need’ is commonly used with ‘not’. It can be used in the past, present or future tenses.

E.g:   1.   He need not ask my permission.

  1. He need not wait any longer.
  2.  They need not make such a fuss over it
  3.  You need not mention this to anyone else.

III).      ‘Need’ is usually used in questions without ‘not’.

E.g:   1.   Need he wait any longer?

          Need I come again?

  1.    He need not pay any fine, need he?


I).       ‘Dare’ is used both as principal verb and as an auxiliary verb.

E.g:   1. He dares you to do it. (principal verb)

  1. He dares not do so. (Auxiliary verb)
  2. He dose not dare to swim the river. (principal verb)
  3. He dare not oppose me. (Auxiliary verb)

II).      As a prinicipal verb,dare is used in the sense of ‘defy’, ‘challenger’ or ‘face boldly’, and is regularly inflected.

E.g:   1. He does not dare to swim the channel.

  1. He dares you to do it.
  2. They dares you to fight.
  3. She dared to call him a liar.
  4. He dared me to my face.

III).     As an auxiliary verb ‘dare’ is uninflected and is commonly used with ‘not’ or in interrogative sentences, and only occasionally in positive statements.

E.g:  1. They dare not do so. (They does not have the courage to do so)

  1. He dare not take such a risk.
  2. They dare not oppose me.
  3. Dare he say that to the boss?
  4. How dare he do such a thing?
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