Do modals confuse you? Are you unsure how to use the words can, could, may, might, should, ought, must, have to, shall, will, or would? Watch this lesson and learn three easy rules to use modals correctly in English, once and for all!
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Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid. In this lesson you’ll learn how to use modal verbs properly, and how to avoid making the most common mistakes that students sometimes make when using these special helping verbs. Now, even though modal verbs doesn’t sound that exciting, when you see what they are you’ll realize that we use these verbs all the time, and so you need to know how to use them correctly. Right? Okay.
So, let’s look at what modal verbs are. So, these are words that express different kinds of things. For example, they might express ability, possibility, permission, obligation. Okay? And some other things like that. And they behave differently from regular verbs, and that’s why they’re sometimes a little bit confusing. But let’s look at some examples of what modal verbs are. “Can”, “could”, “may”, “might”, “should”, “ought to”, “must”, “have to”, “will”, “shall”, and “would”. Okay? These are the most common ones. All right.
So, I’m going to give you now three basic rules that you can follow to avoid most of the mistakes that are usually made with the modal verbs. Okay? So, first of all, make sure to use the modal verb as is. That means don’t change it in the present, or the past, or the future. For example, we can say: “He can swim.” This is a correct sentence. It would be wrong to say: “He cans swim.” Because, here, the student put an extra “s” there. All right? And we don’t need to change that modal verb ever. Okay? All right.
Second, use the base form of the verb after a modal. Don’t use “to”. What do I mean by that? For example, you should say: “He might join us.” Not: “He might to join us.” Okay? This is a really common error, so make sure you don’t make this one. So don’t use the full infinitive to join after a word like “might”. Just use the base form of the verb, which is: “join”. “He might join us.”, “He could join us.”, “He should join us.”, “He must join us.” and so on, without “to”. All right? Very good.
Now, the next point is if you need to, say, use the modal verb in the negative form, then just use “not” after the modal. All right? Don’t add any extra words most the time; there’s one little exception, I’ll explain that to you, but for most of them, don’t use words like: “don’t”, or “doesn’t”, or “isn’t”, “aren’t”, “wasn’t”, “won’t”. Okay? So, with most of these modal verbs just say “not”. For example: “You should not smoke.” Not: “You don’t should smoke.” All right? So, here the student knows and learned all these lovely words: “don’t”, “doesn’t”, “isn’t”, “aren’t”, all that and try to use it when using the modal verb, but that’s wrong. Okay? So, the only exception is with the verb… With the modal verb “have to”, there if you want to make it negative, you need to say: “You don’t have to do this”, okay? But with the other ones, we just say: “You cannot”, “You could not”, “You may not”, “You might not”, “You should not”, “You ought not to”, okay? So there you have to be careful where to place it. “You must not”, this one I told you is an exception. “You will not”, “You shall not”, and “You would not”. Okay? And the other thing to keep in mind when you’re using this word and “not”, this is a really common mistake, so the important thing to remember: This actually becomes one word. Okay? Only in that case. You don’t say… You say: “cannot”, but it’s actually one word. All right? Most of the time, almost always “not” is a separate word with all of the modal verbs. But not with “can”. With “can” it actually becomes one word: “I cannot arrive”-okay?-“on time”, like that. Okay? So, now that you’ve got these basic rules and you’ve understood how it works, let’s do some practice to see how well you’ve understood.
Okay, so let’s get started with our exercises. Now, the rules are written at the top just in case you didn’t remember them exactly. First one, remember use it as it is, don’t change the modal verb. Second one, use with the base verb. Don’t use the full infinitive “to” something. And the last one: Use “not” after the modals when it’s negative. Okay? All right. Try to keep those in mind, but most of all let’s look at the actual examples and you tell me what’s wrong with them. There is something wrong with each and every one of these sentences. Okay.
Number one: “You must to finish your homework. You must to finish your homework.” What’s wrong there? What did the person do wrong? They added “to”. All right? This was our second rule. Right? You cannot use “to”.