Modal Auxiliary

Dalam bahasa Inggris kita sering menemui kata-kata untuk mengekspresikan sesuatu yakni modal.  Salah satu ciri khasnya adalah selalu diikuti oleh kata kerja bentuk pertama.  Kecuali pada kalimat pasif, maka diikuti oleh be+V3 atau past participle. Untuk lebih jelasnya bisa dibaca dalam ringkasan berikut ini.

Study the summary below.

The use and meaning of modals:

1.     can/could

a. Can and could are used to express ability. Could is the past form of can.


When I was a child I couldn’t take a bath alone, but now I can.

b.     Sometimes, could is used as a polite remark in a request.


Could you do me a favor? It is more polite than “Can you do me a favor?”

2.     may/might

a. Might, which is used to express permission, is the past form of may.


Sir, why may I not go home earlier now whereas yesterday I might do it?

b.     When may and might express possibility, both refer to either now or future time.

Their difference lies in the degree of probability; when we use might we refer to something less possible to happen, while may refer to a more probable thing to happen.


a.     She may come late because of the traffic jam.

b.     Even though she is a rich girl, she might not have money to buy a new car because she drives an old car.

3.     should/had better

The modal should and had better are used to express:

a.     A suggestion/an opinion/advice


Iwan should/had better study. (It is a good idea if Iwan studies tonight)

b.     Hope/expectation

Example: My check should arrive next week. (I hope that the check will arrive next week)

4.     must

The modal must is used to express:

a.     An obligation/a necessity


An automobile must have gasoline. (It is obligatory for an automobile to have gasoline to run)

b.     A logical conclusion


The grass is wet. It must have rained.

5.     will/shall

Is used to:

a.     To express the activity/ situation in the future


Dian will come here immediately.

b.     To express polite request/invitation


Will you help me?

c.     To express promise


I will do better in the test.

6.     would/ought to

a.     Would, in addition to the past form of will is used to express past habits


I would play in the rain when I was a child.

b.     Used to express habitual or repeated action in the past. It can also be used to describe a state or situation in the past that no longer exists.


I used to walk to campus when I was a student.


Write the correct modal auxiliary in the bracket!

1.      John ………(can/could) speak Spanish.

2.      My grandmother ……….(could/can) speak seven languages.

3.      My sister ……….(can/could) play tennis now.

4.      The doctor………(must/might) get her as soon as he can.

5.      She………..( might/may) be my advisor next semester.

6.      ……..(might /may) I leave class early?

7.      My cocker spaniel …………(ought to/would) weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.

8.      A good mother ……..(ought to/would) love her children.

9.      Simon …….(will/shall) leave for Poland tonight.

10.  He (will/shall) go to school!


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