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About Book 2: Modals

Modals: These are a common part of the English language and are used to politely express either orders or requests. They can also be used to express possibility or necessity.

Modal

Example

Explanation

might

“… this taciturn home environment might explain the slow development of private speech in Appalachian children.” (para 14)

This is in the realm of possibility. It is not certain if this is  the reason for the slow development but it is very possibly the reason.

may

Note: might & may – are modals of possibility and virtually interchangeable

could

“Other children may have found these tasks so difficult that they could not master them without help.(para 17)

This is in the realm of ability. In this case the children were not able to master the task without help.

can

Note: could & can  – are modals of ability and virtually interchangeable

must

One must remember that private speech is an important part of the child’s development.

This is an order / a necessity – the reader is being told what is important.

need

Note: must (must have) & need –  are modals of compulsion. They have …

should

“Private speech … should relate to how a child behaves while working.(para 16)

This is in the realm of a suggestion. It is suggested that private speech relates to a child’s working habits.

would

Note: should & would –  are modals of …

 

Modals Exercise 1:

Circle the correct modal.

  1. When Amy was a young girl she __ wash the dishes every night.

a. needed to                                 b.  could                              c.  should             d. might

  1. My father ___ play soccer very well when he was younger.

a. must                                         b. may                                 c. should              d. could

3. …

Modals Exercise 2:

Choose one of the modals from the box to complete the passage below.

You can use the modals more than once.  In some cases more than one modal is correct.

could

may

must

should

would

Patient: Do you think I __________________________________ go on a diet?

Doctor: This is no longer optional. …                                       

 

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