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How to understand modals (Part 2 – the answers)

bank holiday, High angle view of a group of people at a party

Good morning to you all out there and I hope that you have had a good week. I hope all is well and that you are working hard practising and developing your English!!

Actually while you are reading this I will be on holiday. I’m not going anywhere this weekend but I am off to Scotland next weekend so I will tell you all about my visit there on my return. I am going to both Edinburgh and a place called Aviemore. I would have gone to warmer climates if my passport had not expired. The problem with renewing my passport is every picture that I have taken for it so far is terrible!! As it has to last 10 years I want to try and get a decent picture, which is almost impossible!

Did you have a chance to read our recently added newsletter? Lucia will be doing this twice a month so a big thanks and a warm welcome to Lucia as our new editor. If there is anything you would like to have in the newsletter please let us know. We would love to have your ideas!

All is well at Bloomsbury. We are planning a great event later this month. We are going to organise a trip to the theatre to see the musical ‘Let it be’ by the one and only Beatles. The musical celebrates 50 years of the Beatles. I am sure it will be a great night out and if you are Beatles fan, a definite must in your calendar.

How did you get on with my modals quiz? Was it difficult? Would you like the answers? Ok here we go!

  1. How many modal are there in English? (9 ‘pure’ modals: can/could/may/might/must/shall/should/will/would.  We also have what we call ‘semi-modal’ verbs, which are ought to/have to/had better/be able to)
  2. Can you think of a modal that you would use for:
    1. Ability (can)
    2. Obligation (ought to)
    3. Necessity (must)
    4. Possibility (can)
    5. Logical deduction (could)
    6. Disproval (will)
    7. What generally follows a modal e.g. modal + ? (bare infinitive)
    8. Can a modal be followed by to e.g. model + to? (never with ‘pure’ modals)
    9. Is there any difference between ‘have to’ & ‘must’ e.g. I must do my homework and I have to do my homework? (Yes, but it can be said ‘native’ speakers do not necessarily differentiate. Must is internal obligation something you are responsible to do and have to is external obligation e.g. laws & rules that you have no control of)

How did you do? So as you can see modals are quite complex and can be easily confused. Especially as one modal can have several meanings or functions. My advice is to get to know them gradually. Get used to a function of one modal and be comfortable using it then progress on to another function. What you shouldn’t do is try and understand them all at once, it is impossible and will give you an immense headache. Not nice!! Try and learn them in context of everyday situations where you may use them. Just to fill in random gap e fill exercises that have no context will not help. Most importantly do not be scared of them. Remember while you are at Bloomsbury your teacher will help. When you are reading in English (which I sincerely hope you are doing!!) highlight any modals you come across and think of its purpose! Why is it there and what is it telling me? What could I replace it with? (See, use of a modal already) Remember will is a modal and would is a modal and NOT the past of will as modals do not have no past form. Likewise the same can be said for can & could. For example ‘Could I ask you I question? Here the modal has a present context. Confused you say? Don’t be, take your time with them.

Did that help? Still confused? Drop me a line if you have any questions or want more information on specific modals.

You remember last week I told you how rude Tok was sitting on my friends lap. Well guess what? He must have read my blog because what did he do on Sunday? Yes he came and sat on my lap for a couple of minutes then sat on the sofa with me. To be honest I found it quite strange and almost wanted to tell him to bog off (remember the meaning) however, I allowed him to sit with me. Maybe he is starting to mellow, but the look he gave me this morning suggests not!

Well what am I going to do with my days off? Continuation to battle with Badlands 2, go jogging, paint my hallway, clean all the windows and enjoy some daytime TV!!! I will take some more pictures of Tik and Tok to update you all.

I suppose you have already noticed the nights are getting longer, pretty soon you will be seeing the Christmas lights go up. I know that dreaded word Christmas!!! I have heard that Rihanna is turning on the lights at Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford. I believe the lights are up in Oxford Street and Regents Street and just waiting to be turned on.

Well enough of me for now. Have a great weekend. Don’t forget to contact me if you have a modal verb question.

Lots of love

Jonny

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