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Unit 79 Introduction to modals

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Main points

* The modal verbs are: `can’, `could’, `may’, `might’, `must’, `ought’, `shall’, `should’, `will’, and `would’

* Modals are always the first word in a verb group.

* All modals except for `ought’ are followed by the base form of a verb.

* `Ought’ is followed by a `to’-infinitive.

* Modals have only one form.

* Modals can be used for various different purposes. These are explained in Units 80-91.

1 Modals are always the first word in a verb group. All modals except for `ought’ are followed by the base form of a verb.
I must leave fairly soon.
I think it will look rather nice.
Things might have been so different.
People may be watching.

2 `Ought’ is always followed by a `to’-infinitive.
She ought to go straight back to England.
Sam ought to have realized how dangerous it was.
You ought to be doing this.

3 Modals have only one form. There is no `-s’ form for the third person singular of the present tense, and there are no `-ing’ or `-ed’ forms.
There’s nothing I can do about it.
I’m sure he can do it.

4 Modals do not normally indicate the time when something happens. There are, however, a few exceptions.

`Shall’ and `will’ often indicate a future event or situation.
I shall do what you suggested.
He will not return for many hours.

`Could’ is used as the past form of `can’ to express ability. `Would’ is used as the past form of `will’ to express the future.
When I was young, I could run for miles.
He remembered that he would see his mother the next day.

5 In spoken English and informal written English, `shall’ and `will’ are shortened to `-‘ll’, and `would’ to `-‘d’, and added to a pronoun.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
I hope you’ll agree.
Posy said she’d love to stay.

`Shall’, `will’, and `would’ are never shortened if they come at the end of a sentence.
Paul said he would come, and I hope he will.

In spoken English, you can also add `-‘ll’ and `-‘d’ to nouns.
My car’ll be outside.
The headmaster’d be furious.

WARNING: Remember that `-d’ is also the short form of the auxiliary `had’.

I’d heard it many times.

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