modal verb meaning

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb which expresses:

  • ability
  • intention
  • obligation
  • necessity
  • permission
  • possibility

Their job is to change or affect other verbs in a sentence. They differ from normal verbs as they don’t follow the same patterns.

examples of modal verbs in use

Here are some examples of modal verbs in action with pictures.

modal verbs examples - ability
modal verbs examples - advise
modal verbs examples - obligation/necessity
modal verbs examples - permission
modal verbs examples - possibility/probability

table of common modal verbs

Modal verbs are used frequently in everyday speech, especially in casual conversations with friends and family. When you get the chance, try and revise the following table:

modal verbs list
modal verbs list

common modal verbs and their function

Now you know what a modal verb is, click on the headings below to learn each one in more detail with meaning and picture examples.

shades of modality

The following picture illustrates how strong each modal verb is.

modal verbs - shades of modality

top 10 tips for modal verbs

Now you know what a modal verb is and how to use them, I’ll give you my top 10 tips about modals.

modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rule
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules
modal verbs rules

Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verb. You can find out about auxiliary verbs here.