Meaning of MODAL in English


/ ˈməʊdl; NAmE ˈmoʊdl/ (also modal ˈverb , modal auˈxiliary , modal auˈxiliary verb ) noun

( grammar ) a verb such as can , may or will that is used with another verb (not a modal) to express possibility, permission, intention, etc.

►  modal adjective

—compare auxiliary



modal verbs

The modal verbs are can , could , may , might , must , ought to , shall , should , will and would . Dare , need , have to and used to also share some of the features of modal verbs.

Modal verbs have only one form. They have no -ing or -ed forms and do not add -s to the 3rd person singular form:

He can speak three languages.

She will try and visit tomorrow.

Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb without to . The exceptions are ought to and used to :

You must find a job.

You ought to stop smoking.

I used to smoke but I gave up two years ago.

Questions are formed without do / does in the present, or did in the past:

Can I invite Mary?

Should I have invited Mary?

Negative sentences are formed with not or the short form -n't and do not use do / does or did .

You will find more help with how to use modal verbs at the dictionary entries for each verb.



mid 16th cent.: from medieval Latin modalis , from Latin modus measure, from an Indo-European root shared by mete ; compare with mood in its grammatical sense.

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.