Learn English grammar modals  Généralités 

Modal auxiliary verbs are used to moderate the main verb, that is to enhance or restrict the verb to a certain context.
The most common modal auxiliaries in English are:
can
could
may
should
might
will
must
would
English grammar modals -
Notice the usage of modals in the following sentences:
I pay my taxes.
 
General declaration of fact. Paying taxes is something I normally do.
I can pay my taxes.
 
Expresses ability. I have the means (funds) to pay.
I might pay my taxes.
 
Expresses possibility, but not certainty. Maybe I will pay; maybe I won't.
I will pay my taxes.
 
Expresses future intent. I resolve to do it at some later time.
I should pay my taxes.
 
Expresses mild obligation. It is required, and I expect to comply.
I could pay my taxes.
 
Expresses possibility. If I have nothing else to do with the money, I might pay taxes.
I would pay my taxes.
 
(In this case), expresses reservation. If I had the money (but I don't). . .
I must pay my taxes.
 
Expresses strong obligation. I am required and have to comply.
ModalNatureContraireExemples
be able to
possibilité
cannotou be unable to
was able to prevent the theft but I was unable to arrest the thief.
can
possibilité, capacité
cannot
Birds can fly; monkeys cannot.
permission
cannotou may not
Can I watch TV? No, you can't.
could
possibilité, capactié
could not
Could there be a virus in this file? No, there couldn't; I ran the anti-virus.
possibilité (passé)
could not
Could dodo birds fly? No, they couldn't.
permission
cannotou may not
Could I open the window? No, you may not.
had better
conseil
had better not
You had better get moving, if you don't want to be late. You had better not be late.
have to, have got to
obligation (origine externe)
must not
have to pay my taxes before the end of March. Origine externe: les lois de l'état.
must
nécessité, forte probabilité
cannot
A is bigger than B which is bigger than C, so A must be bigger than C. C cannot be bigger than A.
obligation (origine interne)
must not
Teacher to pupil: "You must come to school on time; you must not be late". Origine interne: le professeur qui parle décide.
may
possibilité
cannot
It may rain. It can't possibly be 8 PM, I'm only half ready.
permission, requête
cannot
May I speak to Mrs X, please? No, youcan't, she's not in.
might
possibilité (faible)
cannot
might come to your party if I can get off work on time.
permission
may not
Might I borrow your laptop?
ought to
devoir, conseil
ought not to
You ought to apologize to your sister for having hurt her feelings.
déduction logique
cannot, could not
That ought to be enough petrol to last us until we get to Lyons.
should
conseil
should not
You should spend more time on your homework.
déduction logique
cannot, could not
 

English grammar modals

 Learn English Grammar : Modals

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