Managing Modals

Modal verbs are helping/auxiliary verbs that give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows. They express attitudes such as ability, possibility, permission, and suggestion. 

Suggestion: e.g., Students should start working on essays early.

Necessity: e.g., They must buy their tickets today.

Possibility: e.g., She may be sick.

Modals in the English Language

  • Can/could/be able to
  • May/might
  • Shall/should
  • Must/have to
  • Will/would

How to Use Modals

Rule Example
Never use –s, –d, or –ing endings with modals. Participants can responds to the questionnaire at their own pace. 
Use the infinitive without to after modals (except in ought to). Participants might to be unsure of what the question is asking.
Use inversion to turn a sentence that uses a modal into a question.

Sentence using a modal: Participants can be between the ages of 13-15. 

Question using a modal: Can participants be between the ages of 13-15? 

Add not after the modal to make it negative. They could not understand the research question. 
Never use two modals together. The treatment group might could demonstrate a different response from the control group. 

Modal Tenses

Simple Modals 

Show present or future time 

modal + base form 

Present: e.g., We can study now.

Future: e.g., He should leave soon.

Progressive Modals 

Express an activity in progress at the moment of speaking  

Show an action in progress at the specific time in the future  

modal + be + present participle 

Present progressive: e.g., They must be sleeping.

Future progressive: e.g., She should be leaving soon.

Perfect Modals 

Express a past action  

modal + have + past participle 

Present perfect: e.g., I should have studied last night.

Perfect Progressive Modals 

Express an activity in progress at a specific time in the past  

modal + have been + present participle

Present perfect progressive: e.g., You might have been sleeping when I called.