Modal verb need in English. Studying the theme of modal verbs

In English, as is known, there are four types of verbs: auxiliary, semantic, verbs connecting the subject with the addition, and modal. The latter are used extremely often in a huge number of languages. Their role is incredibly important in English, German and other languages. Therefore, the assimilation of this topic is very important. As for the English language, the main rule is that modal verbs can not be used independently. They are always used in conjunction with the ordinary semantic verb.

It must be remembered that modal verbs differ from others in that they do not have participles, gerunds, infinitives and non-personal forms.

Which modal verbs exist in English?

There are five basic modal verbs: need, can, must, may, ought. They can mean probability, possibility, ability, necessity of fulfillment of any certain action, which is revealed in the semantic verb.

It is important to remember that after the modal verb, there is never a to. But there is an exception, for example, the use of the particle to is necessary with the modal verb ought. Some verbs of the modal type can take the form of the present and past times, and others - only the form of the present tense. This category of verbs is often called Defective verbs, which translates as "insufficient verbs". They are so called because of the absence of other forms that other verbs have in English.

In English, there are five basic modal verbs, the features of which will be discussed in this article.


Modal verbs (need, can, must, may, ought) can not denote specific actions or processes. Their task is to express the speaker's attitude to what is happening, the evaluation of a particular action or process.

But which verbs have the past form, and which are not? Thus, modal verbs that have two forms (past and present) include can, may. In past tense, these verbs will look like this: can-could, may-might. Modal verbs need, must, ought do not have the past tense.

And how to build negative and interrogative sentences, in which there are modal verbs? The rule of constructing negative and interrogative sentences is as follows: in questioning, the modal verb is taken to the first place, and in the negative it is necessary only after it to put a particle not, which carries negation in itself.

Modal verb need in English

It should be noted that the need can be either a semantic verb or a modal verb. However, there is a tangible difference in use. First, you need to know the value of need, the translation of which will sound like "need." If this verb is used as a semantic, then it can be safely put in the past tense, in the case of the modal verb need this will be considered a gross error.

We need your help (need - a semantic verb).

Do I need to explain it again? Do I need to explain this again? (Need - modal galgol).

In the role of an inadequate verb, need, as a rule, is used in negative sentences. In negative form, the verb need the translation has the following: "not necessary" or "optional".

As for affirmative sentences, this verb occurs, as a rule, in a formal context accompanied by a negative word.

Modal verb need: Exercises

Exercises will help to consolidate skills and distinguish the use of the verb need from other modal verbs.

You can use for test tasks or exercises, in which you need to perform a translation and determine which verb the need is:

  • We have got plenty of time. We _____ hurry.

A) need not
B) did not use to
C) must not
D) did not need to

  • Need we go there? (We need to go there?) I'll need this magazine (I need this magazine). You need to work harder.

The verb can and its features

As already mentioned above, this verb has the form of past tense. And it is important to note that it is used extremely often in English. You can even say that this is the most used modal verb from all the others.

But what is its peculiarity? What does it mean? Can be used in several situations. First, if you want to express the possibility or ability of a particular action. Secondly, using this verb, you can express doubt or surprise.

It is important to note that in the future, can, which translates as "can", is replaced by the construction to be able to, which has a similar translation.

Verbs may and might

These verbs cause the greatest difficulty for foreigners when learning English, because in different situations they are able to interchange one another or express past or present. It is important to note that the verb may does not have a reduced negative form, but it might be easily reduced to mightn`t. But this form of reduction is extremely rare.

Might is the past form of may, but it is important to note that this verb can also be used as a separate modal. They express uncertainty, the likelihood of any action. But the difference is that may contains more confidence than the verb might.

  • It may be raining today.
  • He might come. Maybe he will come.

Modal verb must

This modal verb is most often used to express the certainty, necessity, obligation of something. The use of must in a negative form expresses the prohibition of something, and this verb has a fairly strict hue. In the English language spoken by modern people, the equivalents of this modal verb are most often used, so that sentences sound less categorical.

  • I have to make sure that the goods reach their destination.
  • We must build this house until the fall.

So, the verb must is used to express:

  • Categorical prohibition;
  • Confidence, certainty;
  • Strong recommendation;
  • necessity.

It is important to understand the importance of mastering the theme of modal verbs. After all, they play a very important role in the English language.

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