Modal verbs

The Modal verbs

What are modal verbs?

Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verbs that change “the mode” (that’s the origin of the word “modal”) of other verbs.

For example, if I say:

– I play football every Saturday.

I can change the “mode” of the verb “to play” by placing a modal verb right before it.

– I must play football every Saturday.

By adding, “must” to the verb “play”, I get a different meaning. In this case, I am indicating that “playing football every Saturday” is an obligation.

How many modal verbs are there?

There are about 10 modal verbs, but grammarians usually add other verbs to the list below because they’re studied alongside with them. We’ll talk about these later.

Can– poder

Example: I can do it. Lo puedo hacer.

Could– pudepodría

Example. I could do it.  Lo pude/podría hacerNote: exact meaning will be given by the context.

Might- puede que, quizás, a lo mejor.

Example: He might come. Puede que él venga.

May– puede que.

Example: It may rain.

Will– to form the future tenses.

Endings –rá- ré in Spanish.

Example: I will see it. Lo veré.  Note: The negative form of will is “will not”, but it’s usually expressed as “won’t”

Would– to form the conditional.

Endings –ría in Spanish. Example: I would do it.  Yo lo haría.

Must – debo.

Example: I must work. Yo debo trabajar.

Should– debería

Example: You should come. Tú deberías venir.

Shall- suggestion, invitation and future.

Examples (suggestion): Shall we have a break? ¿Nos tomamos un descanso? – (Future). They shall come. Ellos vendrán.

Ought to– debería.

Example: They ought to clean their room.