want to know about modals

Modals are helping or auxiliary verbs that represent the ability, permission, likeliness, duty or responsibility. Some modals are can, must, should, etc. 

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A verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense. A modal (also known as a modal auxiliary) expresses necessity, uncertainty, ability, or permission.

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A modal verb (also modal, modal auxiliary verb, modal auxiliary) is a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality – that is, likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation. Examples include the English verbs can/could, may/might, must, will/would, and shall/should.

In English and other Germanic languages, modal verbs are often distinguished as a class based on certain grammatical properties.



A modal auxiliary verb gives more information about the function of the main verb that it governs. Modals have a wide variety of communicative functions, but these functions can generally be related to a scale ranging from possibility ("may") to necessity ("must"), in terms of one of the following types of modality:

  • epistemic modality, concerned with the theoretical possibility of propositions being true or not true (including likelihood and certainty)
  • deontic modality, concerned with possibility and necessity in terms of freedom to act (including permission and duty)
  • dynamic modality,[2] which may be distinguished from deontic modality, in that with dynamic modality, the conditioning factors are internal – the subject's own ability or willingness to act[3]

The following sentences illustrate epistemic and deontic uses of the English modal verb must:

  • epistemic: You must be starving. ("It is necessarily the case that you are starving.")
  • deontic: You must leave now. ("You are required to leave now.")
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