Modal Verbs – Part One

Modal verbs are verbs that accompany other verbs and help you communicate your purpose more clearly. The table below presents a few modal verbs and shows how they can convey different intentions.





may, might, can, could

may, can, could


In a sentence

You might need your earphones for class.

Yes, you may turn on your phones now.

You should create stronger passwords.


“may” and “might” are not completely interchangeable:

– use “may” to suggest a higher degree of probability.

– use “might” if you want to be clear that you’re making a suggestion and not expressing permission.

The modal verbs in this category can also imply varying levels of formality.

Formal: May I use my phone?

Less formal: Could I use my phone?

Casual: Can I use my phone?

“should” is also often used to express moral obligation.

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