Modals Made Easy

Modals can be one of the most scary things about learning English for non-native speakers. But don’t let them scare you!

Watch this video to feel confident using can, could, would, should, might, and may in your next English conversation.

Modals Quiz

1. ______ I speak with John, please?

2. ______ you help me with this email?

3. I ______ speak French, so let me know if you need help.

4. I haven’t seen my aunt in years, so I really _________ visit her in Germany this summer.

5. We __________ eat at the new restaurant if we make a reservation soon.

For extra practice, make a sentence using one or more of the vocabulary words below.

 Vocab Words:

1. possibility – a thing that may happen but is not guaranteed

2. imply – to suggest an idea without directly saying it

3. obligation – a commitment or a responsibility that someone must fulfill

4. interchangeable – used to describe two things (in this case words) that can be switched without noticing a difference

5 & 6 technical  – this word has two meanings:
5. Technical (differences) – here the word refers to small differences that are usually only noticed by people with a high level of knowledge of the topic

6. Technical (ability) -refers to greater skill in operating or fixing a machine or complex system

7. nuance – a very small difference between two things or ideas that is usually not noticed

8. anxiety – a feeling of stress or fear

9. commitment – being dedicated to something, or seeing oneself as obligated or responsible to take a certain action

10. non-committal – when someone does not commit strongly to something (like coming to an event)

Shadowing Exercise:

Listen to each statement from an American English speaker. Then try to repeat each phrase to practice talking like a native English speaker.

Shadowing Exercise Transcript:

I might have time. I’m not sure yet.

I may go with you. I’ll decide soon.

I could bring more friends if you like.

I should probably leave tomorrow.

I would come but I have work.

I will definitely be there later today.

I must remember to call them.

But in American English we would say:

I’ve got to remember to call them.

Response / Challenge Question: 

Imagine that your friend called and is inviting you to go with him this weekend to a concert. Practice answering his invitation with each modal.