Important Uses Of Modal Auxiliary Verbs


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When it comes to spoken English, auxiliary verbs including modal ones, play an important role. Modal verbs like can, could, may, might are usually used in various ways with different meanings. Like ‘Can’ be used to mean ability, asking for permission etc. Other modal auxiliary verbs have quite similar and different uses and meanings. In today’s lesson, we are going to discuss different uses of the modal verbs can and could.
The uses of Can :  One can use this modal verb to show someone’s ability or whether or not someone is able to do something. Remember that the modal verb ‘Can’ is mainly used in casual and informal communication. See the following examples :
a. I think you can do the work. (meaning you have the ability to do that).
See the dialogue below :
A : Who do you think can do the work?
B : I think Karim can that.
A : What about Md. Kabir Abed?
B : I do not think he can (do the work)
Look at other examples also :
A : Can you speak English?
B : No, I can’t. But my daughter can speak English.
A : Really, can she? Can she swim as well?
B : No, she can’t.

To ask for permission or approval to do something or to take action, one can use this modal verb also. Look at the dialogue below :
A : I am feeling very hot here in this room. Can I use the AC?
B : No, you can’t as the AC is not working. (means it’s out of order)
A : Oh, really! that’s very sad. Well, can I leave now?
B : Of course, You can.
See the following examples also :
a. Can I use your phone as mine is out of order?
b. Can I take your car to the airport as nowadays it’s getting tough to get rented vehicle?

To make requests or suggestions, one can also use the modal verb ‘Can’. See the sentences below :
a. Why can’t take one day leave from office as you are feeling bad? (making suggestion)
b. Can you take me to the office by your car? (making request)
c. Can I have the receipt of the payment please? (making request)
d. You can do whatever you like.
Uses of Could (past form of Can)  : You can use ‘Could’ to show that someone had an ability in the past. See the examples :
a. He could swim when he was young.
b. I could walk several miles as a young boy.
c. Karim could speak English very well as a university student (when he was a university student)
You can use ‘Could’ to express permission or ask for permission politely. See the brief dialogue below :
A : Could I take your umbrella as it is raining outside? (asking for permission politely)
B : Yes, you could.
A : Thanks.
Look at the other examples :
a. Could I use your pen please?
b. Could I get you more water?
To express possibility, you can also use ‘Could’. look at the sentences below :
a. I think he could do the work as it’s not that much tough. (meaning he has the potential to do the work, but not sure about that)
b. I think the bus could accommodate all of us. (there is a possibility of that)
c. I think you could do this work. (meaning he might have the ability to do it but not sure)
d. He could come today to visit us. (meaning possibility of his visit)

Note that the different uses of the rest three modal verbs must, may and might must be followed in the next lesson soon. So keep browsing and practice as much as you can as you know it will make you perfect in any things. Yon can’t afford to miss the lesson. If you find this lesson useful, please share it with your friends. Have a good luck with English learning!

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