Posts Tagged ‘modals’

Talking about duties and freedom to act

July 7th, 2017 in English Learning

These ideas can be expressed using modal auxiliary verbs.

Strong obligation

To show strong obligation use must.

  • You must reach here before 5 o’clock.
  • She must quit her job.
  • You must stop smoking.
  • All workers must arrive for work by 9 a.m.
  • You must leave now.
  • He must pay the fee.
  • She must come.
  • We must find a solution to this problem.

Use need to ask if something is absolutely necessary.

  • Need I wait any longer?
  • Need I apply again?
  • Need I wait any longer?
  • Need I pay for that call?
  • Need I pay the dues?
  • Need I call him?
  • Need I invite them?


We can use structures like may not, cannot and must not to prohibit people from doing something.

  • You must not write on the wall. (It is prohibited.)
  • You can’t go.
  • You must not smoke in the kitchen.
  • Books must not be taken out of the library.
  • Students may not smoke in the classroom.
  • You can’t come in.

Weak obligation; recommendation

These ideas can be expressed using the auxiliary verbs should, ought to, had better, might and shall.

  • You should consult a doctor.
  • He should work harder.
  • They should make another attempt.
  • You really ought to do something about that.
  • She really ought to apologize.
  • You had better start saying thank-you.
  • What shall we do?
  • You might ask his opinion.