Glossary: modal verb

Explanation

A modal verb is an auxiliary verb which expresses modality (meanings to do with what is possible, necessary, and so on).

Modal verbs are used to change the meaning of other verbs. They can express meanings such as certainty, ability, or obligation. The main modal verbs are will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must and ought. A modal verb only has finite forms and has no suffixes (e.g. I singhe sings, but not I musthe *musts).

  • I can do this maths work by myself.
  • This ride may be too scary for you!
  • You should help your little brother.
  • Is it going to rain? Yes, it might.
  • *Canning swim is important. [not possible because can must be finite; contrast: Being able to swim is important, where being is not a modal verb]

Verbs in persuasive language

In this lesson, students will analyse persuasive language in a charity appeal, and then write their own charity appeal. There is a particular focus on the way modal auxiliary verbs can be used to persuade.

Goals

  • Identify modal auxiliary verbs.
  • Analyse persuasive language.
  • Practise writing persuasively.

Lesson Plan

Activity 1

Verbs in persuasive language: Activity 1

Activity 1

Identify the modal verbs in this extract by clicking on them, then check your score at the end.

Verbs in persuasive language: Activity 3

Activity 3

Write your own charity appeal, using the source material below. It is a statement from a charity about their aims and methods. Make use of a range of persuasive devices, including modal verbs.

The "Live Not Exist" charity has been set up with the following key aims:

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the modal verbs

Find the modal verbs in a range of examples

Identify the modal verbs in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Modal verbs, adverbs, and uncertainty

Read each of the following examples carefully. Which kind of word indicates uncertainty? An adverb or a modal verb?

Modality

When we talk (or write), we often make statements of fact about the world: It's hot today; I'm hungry; Tomorrow is my birthday. However, this is not always the case.

We often talk about what is possible or necessary: for example, what might happen or what somebody must do. This kind of meaning is called modality.

Verbs: Modal verbs

Modal auxiliary verbs (or modals for short), as the name suggests, are a kind of auxiliary verb. They have most of the attributes of auxiliary verbs. They are a closed class that is identifiable as a short list, and they convey particular types of meaning.

Here is a table which lists the most important modal verbs (also called the core modals). It shows most of them in pairs as present and past tense forms, which makes them easier to remember.

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