Verb Types: Modal Auxiliary Verbs*

Verb Types:Modal Auxiliary Verbs

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

The modal auxiliary verbs affect the mood of the verb – they determine whether a verb is a fact, desire, possibility or command:

The modal auxiliary verbs are most commonly used to express degrees of freedom or severity.

Note:

A modal auxiliary verb is an auxiliary verb but an auxiliary verb is not a model verb.

To be, to do, to have: are primary auxiliary verbs, they can function both as a main verb and as an auxiliary verb.

However, modal auxiliary verbs cannot function as main verbs, they require a main verb to follow after them

e.g.

  • I have a computer.

In this sentence, (“have”) is the primary auxiliary verb, which gives the meaning (“to own”).

  • I will be the best swimmer in the world.

In this sentence, (“will”) is the modal – giving the time of when the action (“be” the main verb) takes place.

Note:

Modal auxiliary verbs cannot function as main verbs, they require a main verb to follow after them.


The modal auxiliary verbs, also called “modals”.

cancouldmightmaymust
shouldwillwouldshall 

Note:

It is important to remember that modal auxiliary verbs can have more than one meaning and function.

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