What is a modal verb? That’s a great question. Essentially, modal verbs are used before the main verb of a sentence in order to show necessity or possibility. Let’s look at the basics here in this one-point lesson.
Must shows the strongest form of necessity and usually that necessity comes from a law.
- When you travel overseas, you must have a passport.
- You must have insurance to register your car.
Have to also shows a strong form of necessity, but not as strong as must.
- I have to be at the office by 9:00am every morning.
- You have to have your seatbelt during takeoff and landing.
The necessity from must and have to usually comes from some outside force, like a rule or a law. On the other hand, need to shows necessity, but the necessity from need to often comes from ourselves, not the outside.
- I need to lose about 10 kilograms (that comes from myself, not a rule or law.)
- I spend too much time watching TV. I need to read more.
Should and Ought to show a suggestion. Both of these have the same usage.
- The city ought to create more open spaces for families and tourists to enjoy the view.
- When you talk to grandma, you should speak a little louder. Her hearing is not so good.
This is the basic idea of using these modal verbs. You can find other, more detailed lessons focusing on each modal verb here on this website.
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