Here we are, to take the lesson on Modal Verbs further ahead. We suggest that you take a look at part one of this concept if you haven’t yet. Click here to read it. One thing that we could establish for sure in the previous lesson was that, these words, which we also call auxiliary verbs, surely change the way we express something. It is all about using the right verb in the right situation.
We covered the verbs can/could and may/might in part 1. We shall take a look at the rest of the auxiliary verbs in this lesson. Look out for the exercise at the end of the lesson!
Understanding Modal Verbs- Part 2
1. When to use the auxiliary verbs shall, should, and ought to?
Much like the previous modal verbs, let us understand how we use the verbs shall, should, and ought to.
- To offer a polite Suggestion: When we call someone for official work, wouldn’t it sound absolutely rude if we said, “I will call you on Wednesday to confirm the same.”? At work, our language needs to be crisp, to the point, and yet extremely polite. A better way of expressing this is, “Shall I call you on Wednesday to confirm the same? So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this is a kind of suggestion where we are unsure about the responsiveness from the opposite end.
- To offer assistance: Say someone you know has been away for long, and are now returning. You want to offer your help so that they can settle back in. Using “shall” during these situations adds to your feeling of wanting to help. “I am going to the market today. Shall I get you some milk and eggs so that you have something to eat when you return?” The person cannot make the decision for the other, and so shall is the perfect verb to use.
- For giving advice: Here’s a sentence to understand this use better. “You should always proofread your email before sending it to your clients.” There is a strong assertiveness in the use of should, but yet it is advice. It wouldn’t be wrong to use ought to in this situation either. Like, “You ought to speak to your children when you get back home, no matter how tired you are.” You will notice how it asserts on a particular point, which is absolutely necessary.
- To make predictions: “I think she should be okay by herself on the trip.” When you want to guess something, but have some confidence in your thought, you can use “should.”
2. How to use the modal verbs Must, Have to and Need to?
These verbs sound pretty common, and yet, we end up mixing their use out of utter negligible confusion. But that shouldn’t come in the way of us wanting to ace English grammar. Let us take a look at how we can use these modal verbs.
- To express necessity or a requirement: Several times, we end up misusing these three verbs in places where they don’t have the same meaning. Let us take a look at the difference between the three.
- You must wear rubber slippers when working with electric circuits.
- I have to submit my report by the 18th of this month.
- I need to start working it before my health deteriorates.
In the above examples, one can notice how all three of them have their own different uses and express different things. The first sentence is more like something said with strict affirmation and confidence. In this case, the person is stating a valid fact, and so the listener must adhere to it. (Ah! Look what we did, we used must in the last sentence! Yay!)
In the second sentence, we see that the person is expressing a fact that they know. While in the third sentence, someone is expressing something they need to do but does not ask for urgency in the application of the action.
2. To convince: Using “must” to convince someone is a known rule. It makes one want to listen and agree. For example, “You must join us for dinner tonight! We’re going to check out that new Chinese restaurant.” Somehow, using “need to” is not as persuasive as “have to”. For example, “Oh! You have to visit the National Musem when in my city. Sightseeing is incomplete without that.”
3. To stop someone: “You need not hire a professional to do this job; you can handle it yourself.” In this sentence, the speaker is clearly stopping the listener from doing something. Similarly, you can use “must” too. “You must not pluck the flowers in the garden.” This is like re-establishing a forbidden rule, only to add more weight to it.
Conclusion on Modal Verbs
When you actually break down the study of modal verbs into such sections and go over it about five-six times, it becomes very easy to understand its usage. We would suggest making a table of these auxiliary verbs with their place of use and an example sentence. Throwing a quick glance at it every now and often will help retain. With time, you WILL become a pro in the same!
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