Posts Tagged ‘Can’

Some equivalents of modal auxiliary verbs

August 11th, 2010 in English Grammar, English Learning

Be able to

Be able to has similar meaning to can and could.

He is able to support her. (= He can support her.)
She is able to speak ten languages. (= She can speak ten languages.)
They were able to catch the thief. (= They could catch the thief.)
Be to

The structure be + to indicates simple future, like will or shall, but with a slight degree of uncertainty.

He is to retire this year.
We are to go on a vacation next month.
Be + to can also be used to express commands. This structure hasĀ  similar meaning to must, but not quiet so strong or blunt.

You are to leave at once. (= You must leave at once.)
He is to report for duty within a week. (= He must report for duty within a week.)

Had better

Had better has similar meaning to should and ought.

You had better consult a doctor. (= You should consult a doctor.)
You had better get some rest. (= You ought to get some rest.)

Had better may also express a threat.

You had better give me my money back.
He had better be careful.
Have to and have got to

I have to be there by 12 o’clock. (= I must be there by 12 o’clock.)

Fill in the blanks with suitable modal auxiliary verbs.

1. Pay your fees in time lest you —————- be fined.

a) would
b) should
c) will

2.————- I send an application?

a) will
b) shall
c) may

3. ————– he be allowed to play the match?

a) shall
b) will
c) must

4. If I were you, I ————- do it.

a) wouldn’t
b) shouldn’t
c) must not


1. should
2. shall
3. will
4. wouldn’t