Modal Verbs


Will or Shall= They have the same meaning. Used for future.
Structure: Will or Shall + infinitive (I will be/ She will go/ He will come)
Eg: I think we shall win or I think we´ll (we + will) win.
  • When we offer something we use will Eg: My bag is heavy. I will carry it for you.
  • Often used with words that mean a future not certain Eg: Maybe, perhaps, I think
  • Shall I?/ Shall we?= Means: Do you think it is a good idea? Eg: It is hot here. Shall I open the window?
Can = Structure: Can + infinitive ( can do/ can play)
Could = Past of can Eg: When I was young I could play in the rain. Or at a formal way (Poderia) Eg: Could I carry your bags?
May and Might = They have the same meaning. Used for something that is possible to happen, a possibility.
Structure: May or might + infinitive ( may go/ might go/ may play etc)
Eg: I may go to Paris.(Perhaps I will go to Paris)
  • See the difference:
  • I´m going to play tennis tomorrow(sure).   BUT    I might/may play tennis tomorrow. (possible)
  • May I…? = Is it ok if I do something? Eg: May I smoke ? ( Is it okay to smoke?)
Should = Advice/ought to. You can use either should or ought to. You think it is the right thing to do. Eg: Tom should /ought togo to bed earlier. He usually go to bed very late and he´s always tired.
  • We normally use think with should.( I think you should…I don´t think you should…I think you shouldn´t.)
Must – It is stronger than should
Structure: Must + infinitive ( must do/ must like etc)
Must = Have to/obligation. We can use either must or have to, see the example:
Eg: this floor is very dirty, you must clean it/you have to clean it.
  • Must can also be used for future, (something you have to do) Eg: I must go to the bank now. I must hurry because I can´t be late for the meeting.
Would = _ria. Structure: Would + infinitive( I would like, I would go etc) Formal way.
Had better =(I´d better/You´d better) It is better for you to do it. If you don´t, there will be a problem or danger. Eg: You´d better go now or you´ll be late. We´d better not go there without mother´s permission or she will punish us.
Supposed to= It was expected…Eg: What are you doing here? Well it is my house.I´m supposed to be here!
Used to= Something you were acostumated to.Eg: I used to play handball when I was teenager.