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Modal Verbs

Practice the Advanced Exam with these Mock Tests. See how you do before the real exam.

Modal Verbs

1 Look at each pair of sentences and describe the differences in meaning.
ORDER - Imperative - MUST do.
Advice - I think you should
    1. You'll be surprised at how friendly they are.
    2. You may be surprised at how friendly they are.
    1. I'm sure that you WILL be surprised
    2. perhaps, maybe

    1. You must kiss people you meet on both cheeks.
    2. You should kiss people you meet on both cheeks.

Imperative bare infinitive

Shut the door -
(Bare infinitive form = imperative)
bare infinitive = infinitive without 'to'
  1. a) I can speak French reasonably well. b) I ____________ speak French reasonably well (reasonably = good enough)
    can (present) could (past)

  2. a) You may open the window. b) You ought to open the window.
    ____________ (Advice)
  3. a)That must be the postman. b) That could be the postman.
    a) I think there is no other possibility. b) It might be the postman but COULD be another person
    I'm not absolutely sure if it's the postman ('Could' is not referring to the past)

  4. a) You don't have to come early b) You mustn't come early
    a) If you like you can come on time. // I don't mind if you do come early but it's your choice (up to you)
    b) You are not allowed to come early. // Make sure that you don't come early again.

  5. a) I can't lift those boxes in my condition. b) I mustn't lift those boxes in my condition.
    a) It's not possible to lift the boxes.
    b) The Doctor told me not to lift the boxes.

  6. a) I've got to leave work by 3 p.m. today b) I may leave work by 3 p.m. today.
    a) It is my duty to leave by 3 p.m. I don't have a choice (When 'have' is contracted, we MUST use 'got' - 'I've GOT ..'
    b) I might choose to leave by 3 p.m.

  7. He ought to give up his job because he's won the lottery he doesn't need to go to work to give up (phrasal verb = quit = stop doing something )

  8. The present prime Minister won't win the next election because .....
    he has made so many mistakes that people are angry with him.
    (so ..that - Cause and effect)

  9. Jamie doesn't have to go to school tomorrow because .... he has flu

  10. You mustn't be home late tonight because .. tomorrow you have to get up early.
  11. I can't read the instructions on the side of this book because ... I can't read Spanish.

  12. This painting could be of some kind of animal because .... I can see something that looks like a tail.

  13. You've got to start your revision this weekend because ... there isn't much time left before the exam.

2 Someone you know wants to get fit. Give them some advice.

Someone has asked about your musical abilities when you were a child. Tell them about your past abilities.
"How good were you at music when you were a child?"

A friend has asked to smoke in your bedroom. What do they ask?

Someone has asked you where your friend Mark is. You don't know for sure but you have one or two ideas.

Someone has offered to give you a lift home. Tell them it is not necessary as you have your bike.

You hear the telephone ring. You are sure that's it's your friend Sam because he said he would ring at this time. Tell your flatmate this as you go to answer it.


Complete the sentences using a modal where appropriate.

  1. The present prime minister won't win the next election because.... ____________
  2. Jamie doesn't have to go to school tomorrow because ... ____________
  3. You mustn't be home late tonight because... ____________
  4. I can't read the instructions on the side of this box because ..... ____________
  5. This painting could be of some kind of animal because ... ____________
  6. You've got to start your revision this weekend because .... ____________

Make modals

  1. I could play the guitar years ago.
  2. A friend has asked to smoke in your bedroom. What question do they ask? ____________
  3. Some has asked you where your friend Mark is. You don't know for sure but you have one or two ideas. Tell them your ideas.
  4. Someone has offered you a lift home. Tell them it's not necessary as you have your bike.
  5. You hear the phone ring and you are sure it's your friend Sam. (He said he would ring at this time) Tell your flatmate this
  6. The head teacher gives permission for a student to leave school early.
  7. It's necessary for everyone to bring their calculator to the Maths exams: Tell your friend.

Is it correct for her to say .. "I wish you would be taller"

Pronunciation and tone changing meaning

Watch your tone! But I would like to add one thing I stumbled upon in thought just this past week.
Tone is phonemic in English:
  1. I could go. = It's possible to go. I can.
  2. I could go. = It's possible to go, but perhaps there's a reason why I won't... (or) I can, but...
5 Fill in the gaps in this letter using one of the modal verbs in the box. You may need to use them more than once.
can - might/may - can't - should - must Dear Alison

I have just opened your letter. You said you sent one before but it (1) ____________ have got lost in the post! The garage also delivered your little present. You (2) ____________ not have spent so much money on me. It's absolutely ridiculous. In fact, you (3) ____________ not have bothered as I already have a Porsche! I (4) ____________ possibly accept it and have asked them to return it to you. You (5) ____________ try to be reasonable, Alison. You (6) ____________ possibly be in love with me as you claim to be. You don't know me at all and (7) ____________ possibly have any idea what I'm like. If you got to know me, you (8) ____________ even find you didn't like me at all. I (9) ____________ be quite irritating sometimes, I promise you. I'm afraid I (10) ____________ ask you not to write to me again. This (11) ____________ seem harsh but that's the way it (12) ____________ be.



Grammar plus: modals (advanced features)

6 Match each of the following sentences to the idea they express.
  1. Couples can miss each other when separated.
  2. She could read before she started school.
  3. I've got to finish this work before I go to bed.
  4. You can't smoke in here.
  5. You ought to take better care of your dog.
  6. You must have had a great holiday. You look so well.
  7. You needn't come to the the airport with me.
  8. Can I use your car to pick up some shelves?
  1. permission
  2. theoretical possibility
  3. weak obligation
  4. strong obligation
  5. lack of obligation
  6. prohibition
  7. deduction
  8. ability
7 Look again. What other modals can be used to express the ideas below? Give examples.
EXAMPLE: permission - can, may

Go back to the 'Sweet Nothings' article and find three examples of modals. What ideas/meanings do they express?

Some of the sentences below are incorrect or don't make sense. Change them as necessary.
  1. You don't have to bring a calculator into the exam room. If you do, you will automatically fail.
  2. They might not have known that the main road was closed.
  3. Do I may leave early today? I'll come in at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
  4. You would better shut the window before you catch cold.
  5. Can't you to play any musical instrument?
  6. You might as well go home now. There's nothing more you can do here.
  7. You should stay up until 11p.m. tonight as it's your birthday but then you must go to bed.
  8. Do we have to visit our cousins on Sunday?
  9. Try as I might, I couldn't make him understand my point of view.
  10. The gift is beautiful but I couldn't possibly accept it.
  11. She can have misunderstood what you were trying to say. Why else would she react so strangely?
  12. Oughtn't we to have invited Pete and Sarah to the party?
  13. By the end of this month I hope I can use this new computer programme without any difficulty.
8 Beginning with the words given, make the second sentence in each case below mean approximately the same as the first sentence.
  1. It's not a good idea to drink coffee just before you go to bed.
    You ____________
  2. I am as happy as it is possible for me to be.
    I couldn't ____________
  3. It's possible for it to get very cold here in winter.
    It ____________
  4. It's impossible that they took the car without asking.
    They ____________
  5. It's essential for all students to register by Wednesday at 11a.m.
    All students ____________
  6. It really wasn't necessary for you to put up those shelves. I am glad you did, although
    you ____________
  7. Perhaps they didn't realise how late it was.
    They ____________
  8. It would be inadvisable to book the flight until you are sure you can go.
    You'd ____________
  9. Isn't it necessary to switch the heating on manually? It doesn't have a timer.
    Don't ____________
  10. It wouldn't have been right for me to let you pay for everything.
    I ____________
  11. It was wrong of her to call me all those names.
    She ____________
9 Read the advice given about 'first dates' in a teenage magazine. Decide which of the alternative modals in each case is possible. More than one may be correct.

Advice for first dates

Choose which modals, from the list, are possible in the context of this advice.
Imagine you've met someone you really like but you don't know them very well. You have finally decided that you want to ring them up and ask them out but are feeling pretty nervous about it all.
Actually, there are a number of things you (1) ____________ can/would/may do to make the whole process a little less painful than it sometimes is.
First of all, you really (2) ____________ ought/must/can have some definite suggestions as to where you (3) ____________ must/could/might go etc. There's nothing worse than getting into a conversation like this and then spending ages trying to work out what you would both like to do.
If they would like to go out with you, then you (4) ____________ must/must have/might make sure that you agree an easy place to meet up. Standing waiting at different exits to a tube station for hours (5) ____________ could/must/can be a bit of a passion killer on a first date!
Next, when you're getting ready for the evening, don't try too hard. You definitely (6) ____________ haven't/didn't have to/shouldn't go out and get new clothes for the occasion.
Wear clothes you know and like and feel comfortable in. If your date is a bit late, don't get anxious. They (7) ____________ must/can/might have been held up unavoidably. Alternatively they (8) ____________ should/need/might be trying to make some kind of point, but either way just relax. If you're feeling nervous about what you (9) ____________ could/can/might talk about, try thinking of a few topics which you think will be of interest to the other person. During the evening, whatever you do, show interest in the other person. Don't spend ages talking about yourself. You (10) ____________ have got to/should/could, for example, ask them about their family, their work/study, their interests etc. Check if they (11) ____________ have to/need to/ought to be home at a certain time. Try and make sure that you do both get home on time. There's nothing worse than upset parents to ruin a great evening! If you follow this advice you (12) ____________ can/should/may find that you (13) ____________ can't have/shouldn't leave/needn't have worried after all......and you (14) ____________ have to/can/might even manage to fix up a second date!

11 Now write your own short article giving advice about what to do when you are invited round for dinner at your girlfriend or boyfriend's house to meet their parents for the first time. Include as many modals as possible.
12 Watch Out! didn't need to / needn't have

Which sentence means

  1. it wasn't necessary but it happened
  2. it wasn't necessary and it probably didn't happen

    1. I needn't have cleaned the house today. My parents have been delayed and aren't coming until the weekend.
    2. I didn't need to clean the house after all. Joe had already done it.

What do you think?

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