English Modal Auxiliary Verbs
Ability/Possibility: Present Ability: Past and Future CAN (more common) COULD BE ABLE TO (formal) I could run fast when I was a I can run fast. child, but now I can’t. Can you swim? You could run faster if you I can speak Spanish. stopped smoking. John can lift that chair. I could read when I was four. I’m able to help you now. Last night, I couldn’t sleep at all. I had a terrible cold. Permission MAY (formal) CAN (informal) May I come in? You may leave the room now. Can I hold the baby? Can I go with you? Polite Requests MAY (formal, with I and We) WILL (informal) CAN (informal) WOULD (please) (formal) WOULD (mind) (formal) COULD (formal and informal) May I borrow your pen? Will you please pass the salt? Can I borrow your rubber? Would you please pass the pepper? Would you mind opening the door? Could you give me a ride to the airport?
WILL BE ABLE TO
WAS/WERE ABLE TO (ability and successful I’ll be able to see you at noon. performance) I won’t be able to come MANAGED TO (ability and tomorrow. successful performance) After many attempts, I was able to repair the car. Last night, we were locked out, but we managed to get into the house through the window.
BE ALLOWED BE PERMITTED HAVE PERMISSION TO No one is allowed to use dictionaries during the tests. Were you permitted to use the language lab? You don’t have permission to get into that room.
Inglés IV (B-2008) Prof. Argenis A. Zapata Possibility/Probability; Possibility/Probability; Deduction, Guess or Deduction, Guess or Inference: Present and Inference: Past Future MAY (more than 50% MAY HAVE (more than 50% possibility) possibility) MIGHT (less than 50% MIGHT HAVE possibility) MUST HAVE COULD 1 (less than 50% COULD HAVE possibility) MUST (95% possibility) A: Where was John? B: He may have been at the A: Where’s John? library. B:... [continues]
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