Modal auxiliaries for my 1st of Bachillerato

My students of 1st of Bachillerato are ending the year with modal auxiliary verbs, so let's review what modal verbs are. They have special characteristics:

  • They always have the same form, no matter the subject of the sentence.
  • They work as auxiliary verbs, that is, they make their own negative (by adding "not") and interrogative form (through subject-verb inversion) without any other auxiliary verb.
  • They are defective verbs, that is, they do not have all the tenses.
  • They are always followed by another verb in the infinitive without "to". Modal verbs add some meaning to the verbs that goes after them. We can see this special meaning which corresponds to the different modals in the chart below:
 Meaning... in the
 Present time
 Past time
 Future time
 can (can't)
could (couldn't)
was/were(n't) able to 
 will be able to
 can (n't)
may (not)
 was/were(n't) allowed to
will be allowed to 
ought (not) to 

have to 
need to
 had to
will have to 

 don't/doesn't have to
don't need to
 didn't have to
didn't need to
 won't have to 
won't need to

 (positive) must

(negative) can't

You can practice modals in many pages, here are some:
- A funny game at ESL Games World.

You may find many more in the internet but I think these are enough!! I hope you still work a little, it's just two weeks to go, one final effort!!!
Tell me if you liked/used this post by leaving comments!!!


  1. I have a question. When need is "obligation" goes without "to" and when is "lack of obligation" goes with "to"?. I didn´t know the difference and I always use it with "to".
    Patricia A.

    1. I'm sorry Patricia, it's a mistake; it always goes with to, I'll change that right after answering your comment. Thanks ;)

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