miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015


What are modal verbs? They are auxiliary verbs that cannot be used as a main verb. They express modality, that is to say, they can express ability, possibility, necessity or another condition. As auxiliary verbs, they do not work without another verb. This other verb always goes after the model verb in the sentence and it is in the infinitive form (without “to”). They cannot be conjugated.

For Spanish speakers, this is really difficult since they do not have an exact translation into our language. They have a meaning, and sometimes it is very difficult to understand them.

In this post, I will try to summarise some modal verbs to express obligation, necessity and lack of necessity.

MUST/ MUSTN’T: we use it when:

1. We decide for ourselves that something is necessary, obligatory or prohibited.
  • For example: I must answer my emails.

2. We express strong opinions. 
  • For example: We must meet more often.

3. We give instructions, especially in writing. 
  •  For example: Mobiles phones must be switched off for take-off and landing.

HAVE TO/ NEED TO: we use them for an obligation, imposed by someone else
  • For example: You have to say where you got the information from/ Yu need to write a report

We also use must, have to and need to to express general necessity.
  • For example: We must try to talk to each other more/ We have to reduce our dependence on technology/ We need to take control of our lives.

Apart from expressing these meanings, must can also be used to give advice and recommendations and to make deductions in the present. We will see these meanings in next posts.

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