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Exercises of Modals | Modals Exercises with Answers

 

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English Grammar  – Modals Exercises with Answers

 

Exercises on Modals – Do modals confuse you? Are you unsure how to use the words can, could, may, might, should, ought, must, have to, shall, will, or would? Well, good news! You are at the right place. In this article, students can learn Modals usage and also practice different exercises on modals. Modal verbs are type of helping verbs which indicate modalities like ability, permission, possibility, necessity, order, etc. 

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What are Modals?

A modal verb is a type of verb that contextually indicates a modality such as a likelihood, ability, permission, request, capacity, suggestion, order, obligation, necessity, possibility or advice. Modal verbs generally accompany the base form of another verb. 

In easier words, Modal Verbs are the verbs that are used before main verbs to express permission/necessity/certainty/ability etc.

So if you want to brag about your ability to eat an entire pizza, you use the modal verb can before the infinitive form of eat.

 

Example: I can eat an entire pizza.

 

 
 

Types of Modals

Here are the different types of modal verbs and their meanings:

 

1. Modals of ability:

 

  • Can: Used to express present ability

Example: “I can speak three languages.

  • Could: Used to express past ability or present inability.

Example: I could help you later, but I’m busy now.

 

2. Modals of possibility:

 

  • May: Used to express possibility or permission.

Example: It may rain tomorrow.

  • Might: Used to express a lower degree of possibility than “may.”

Example: I might win the lottery this week

  • Can/Could: Can also be used to express possibility, especially in informal contexts.

Example: It could be sunny tomorrow, despite the forecast.

 

3. Modals of Probability

 

  • May/Might: Express a possibility or chance that something is true or will happen. They suggest a less certain degree of probability than “must” or “should.”

Example: “It may rain tomorrow, so bring an umbrella just in case.”

  • Could: Indicates a possible but uncertain situation. It’s often used to suggest a less likely possibility than “may” or “might.”

Example: “The traffic could be bad this evening, so let’s leave early.”

  • Must: Expresses a strong degree of certainty, often based on evidence or logical reasoning. It implies that something is almost certainly true or likely to happen.

Example: “She’s been studying all night. She must be exhausted.”

  • Should: Implies a strong expectation based on what is normal or expected. It suggests that something is likely to happen or be true, but there’s a possibility it might not.

Example: “The train should arrive on time, but you never know with public transport.”

  • Ought to: Expresses a strong expectation or recommendation based on what is considered desirable or appropriate.Implies a high degree of certainty about what is likely to happen or be true.

Example: He ought to have finished his work by now.

 

4. Modals of obligation:

 

  • Must: Used to express strong obligation or necessity.

Example: Students must wear ID cards at all times.

  • Have to: Used to express external obligation or necessity.

Example: I have to finish this report before the deadline.

  • Should: Used to express advice or suggestion.

Example: “You should apologize for your bad behavior.

 

5. Modals of advice:

 

  • Should: It suggests that something is a good idea or the right thing to do.

Example: You should get some rest before your big presentation tomorrow.

  • Ought to: Formal and suggests a stronger sense of obligation or duty.

Example: You ought to apologize to your friend for what you said.

  • Must: This modal conveys a strong obligation or necessity.

Example: You must study hard for your exams.

  • Could:”could” can be used to make suggestions in a more tentative or polite way.

Example: You could ask your neighbor for help. 

 

6. Modals of permission:

 

  • May: Used to ask for permission or give permission.

Example: May I use your computer?

  • Can: Can also be used to ask for permission in informal contexts.

Example: Can you please pass the salt?

 

7. Modals of Prohibition:

 

  • Must not (mustn’t): Used for strong prohibition, often associated with rules, laws, or strict instructions.

Example: “Students must not cheat on exams.”

  • Cannot (can’t): Expresses impossibility due to lack of ability, permission, or circumstance.

Example: “You can’t drive without a license.”

  • May not: Formal, polite way to express prohibition, often used in requests or instructions.

Example: “May I ask you not to speak loudly in the room.”

  • Should not (shouldn’t): Suggests strong advice against doing something due to potential negative consequences.

Example: “You shouldn’t eat too much junk food.”

  • Ought not to: Similar to “should not,” but slightly more formal and emphasizes the undesirability of the action.

Example: “You ought not to treat your friends badly.

  • Will not: Strong determination not to do something, often used in personal declarations or promises.

Example: “I will not give up on my dream.”

 

 
 

Modals of possibility vs Modals of Probability

Both modals of possibility and modals of probability deal with uncertainty, but they subtly differ in the degree of certainty they express and the context in which they’re used.

 

Modals of possibility:

Modals of probability:

Express a range of potential outcomes, from unlikely to likely.

Express a degree of certainty about an outcome, with higher certainty implying a greater likelihood.

Focus on the feasibility or potential existence of something.

Focus on the chances of something happening or being true.

Commonly used modals: may, might, could, can (informal).

Commonly used modals: may, might, could, must, should (with context), ought to (formal).

Example: “She might be late due to the traffic.” (Indicates a possibility, but doesn’t specify how likely it is.)

Example: “It must be raining outside, I hear thunder.” (Indicates a high degree of certainty based on evidence.)

 

 
 

Summary 

 

  • Can: Expresses ability or possibility.
  • Could: Expresses past ability, possibility, or polite permission.
  • May: Expresses possibility or permission (more formal than “can”).
  • Might: Expresses a lower degree of possibility than “may”.
  • Must: Expresses strong obligation or necessity.
  • Shall: (Formal) Used to make offers, suggestions, or threats.
  • Should: Expresses advice, recommendation, or expectation.
  • Will: Expresses intention, prediction, or promise.
  • Ought to: (Formal) Similar to “should” but with a stronger sense of obligation.

 

 
 

Exercise 1 – Fill in the blank with the most appropriate modal verbs.

 

1. You _______ not touch that vase, it’s very fragile. (must / may not / can)
Answer: must not

2. We _______ leave early tomorrow if we want to avoid the traffic. (may / can / should)
Answer: should

3. There’s a chance it _______ rain later this afternoon. (might / ought to / will)
Answer: might

4. _______ you please open the window? (could / should/ might)
Answer: could

5. You _______ get more exercise. It’s good for your health. (should / must / need)
Answer: should

6. If I were you, I _______ apologize for the bad behavior. (would / must / might)
Answer: would

7. Students _______ wear their uniforms to school on weekdays. (have to / may / could)
Answer: have to

8. I _______ finish this project before the deadline. (must / shall / can)
Answer: must

9. The train ______ arrive any minute now. (must / should / can)
Answer: should

10. You _______ try this new restaurant; it has amazing reviews. (should / can / could)
Answer: should

11. I’m not sure if I _______ attend the meeting tomorrow, given my busy schedule. (will / can / could)
Answer: can

12. You _______ speak to the manager if you have any complaints. (should / may / will)
Answer: should

13. You _______ visit the Dentist at least twice a year. (shall / may / should)
Answer: should

14. _______ you please help me with these bags? (Can / Would / Should)
Answer: Could

15. You _____ respect your elders, no matter what. (should / have to / may)
Answer: should

16. We _______ not be able to go on vacation this year due to financial constraints. (may / might / must)
Answer: may

17. _______ I borrow your pen for a moment? (Can / May / Should)
Answer: May

18. He _______ play the guitar very well when he was younger. (can / could / may)
Answer: could

19. She _____ speak three languages fluently. (can / could / may)
Answer: can

20. If I _____ win the lottery, I would travel the world. (would / will / could)
Answer: would

21. _______ you please keep the noise down? I’m trying to concentrate. (Can / Would / Should)
Answer: Would

22. You _____ not park here; it’s a no-parking zone. (may / should / must )
Answer: must

23. They _____ finish the project on time; they’re working hard. (should / might / will)
Answer: will

24. ______ you please pass the salt? (will / can / could)
Answer: could

25. I ______ help you if I could. (will / would / might)
Answer: would

 

 
 

Exercise 2 – Identify the type of modal verbs used in the sentence. 

 

Ability Obligation Possibility Request Advice

 

1. I can speak Spanish fluently.
Ans. Ability (Indicates current capability)

2. “With practice, I can learn to play the guitar.
Ans. Ability (Expresses future ability after effort)

3. Could you please pass the water?
Ans. Request (Polite)

4. May I leave early today?
Ans. Request (Formal)

5. I might be able to finish this project by tomorrow, but it’s not guaranteed.
Ans. Possibility

6. May I please use your restroom?
Ans. Request (Formal)

7. I have to finish this report by tomorrow.
Ans. Obligation

8. You ought to apologize for your mistake.
Ans. Advice

9. Students must wear uniforms to school.
Ans. Obligation

10. We might go to the beach this weekend.
Ans. Possibility

11. You should get more exercise.
Ans. Advice

12. She could run a marathon when she was in her twenties.”
Ans. Ability (Refers to former capability)

13. If I had a map, I could navigate this forest.
Ans. Ability (Conditional Ability)

14. You should eat more fruits and vegetables.
Ans. Advice

15. Will you please turn down the music?
Ans. Request

16. The project should be completed by the end of the month.
Ans. Obligation

17. He must be very tired after working all day.
Ans. Possibility

18. I’m sure you will do well on the test.
Ans. Possibility

19. We must act now to prevent further damage.
Ans. Obligation

20. If you want to improve your grades, you should study more regularly.
Ans. Advice

21. This recipe should make enough for six people.
Ans. Possibility

22. You must memorise all of these rules about tenses.
Ans. Obligation

23. You have to take your shoes off before you go into the mosque.
Ans. Obligation

24. He can lift heavy weights easily.
Ans. Ability

25. If you’re interested in hiking, you should definitely explore the mountain trails.
Ans. Suggestion

 

 
 

Exercise 3 – Complete the dialogues using the most appropriate modal verbs.

1. Characters: A student (Maya) and a librarian (Mr. Sharma)

Maya: ________(A) I borrow these four books, please.
Mr. Sharma: Students ____ (B – will/can) only borrow two books at a time. Library rules.
Maya: ____ ( C- will/could) you please let me borrow just one more? I _______ (D – must /have to) submit my assignment next week. I promise to return them all on time.
Mr. Sharma: Hmm… Well, in this case, you ____ (E- can / should) take one more as long as you’re very careful with them.

Ans.
A. May
B. can
C. could
D. have
E. can

2. Two friends Rahul and Tushar in a cafeteria.
Rahul: I ________ (A- couldn’t / can’t) decide what to get. Everything looks so good!
Tushar: Well, you _________ (B- could / must) definitely try the cheeseburger. It’s their specialty.
Rahul: Hmm, I feel I _______ (C-should / must) not eat junk more than once a week.
Tushar: Okay, then you ______ (D- must/have to) try the veggie pasta. It’s super healthy and delicious.
Rahul: That sounds good! I ________ (E- may / might) just go for that. Thanks!

Ans.
A. can’t
B. must
C. should
D. must
E. might

3. Liam and Emma out in a field.
Liam: Wow, look at those clouds! I think it ________(A- can/might) rain soon.
Emma: You’re right! We _____(B- should/must) probably head for shelter before it starts to pour.
Liam: Yes, I ____ (C- can/could) not risk getting sick when exams are round the corner.
Liam: Good idea! Let’s run across the street. We ______ (D-can/may) find shelter there .
Emma: Perfect! And who knows, maybe it _______ (E- will/should) clear up soon and we can shop for some stationery items.
Ans.
A. might
B. should
C. can
D. may
E. will

4. Security Checkpoint

Security Person: Sir, I’m afraid you _____(A- won’t / can’t) bring this knife through security. It’s a prohibited item.
Mark: Oh, come on! It’s just a little pocket knife.
Security Person: I understand, but rules are rules. Sharp objects are not allowed on board for safety reasons. You’ll _______ (B-have to/ must) discard it before proceeding.
Mark: What am I supposed to do with it then? I can’t just leave it here!
Security Person: There are a few options. You _____ (C- could / may) mail it back home or arrange for someone to pick it up from the airport. If it’s not valuable, you _______(D- might / may) be able to dispose of it in the designated bin here.
Mark: This is so frustrating!
Security Person: I’m really sorry, but no exceptions _____ (E-can/will) be made for prohibited items. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Ans.
A. can’t
B. have to
C. could
D. might
E. can

5. A student and a teacher
Ben: These math problems are so hard! I _______(A – will/may) fail if this question is asked in the test.
Teacher: Don’t worry, Ben. I ____ (B – could/may/will) help you.
Ben: ______ (C – Could/Will) you maybe teach me shortcuts to arrive at the solution ?
Teacher: No shortcuts, unfortunately. But I _________(D-can/could) offer you some strategies. Perhaps if we rewrite the equation or draw a diagram, it might spark something new.
Ben: Yes, let me try solving it again.
Teacher: You _______(E- can/could) do this, Ben. You’ve always been good at maths, and with a little patience and guidance, you’ll crack this nut in no time.

Ans.
A. may
B. will
C. Could
D. can
E. can
 

 
 

Exercise 4 – Determine whether the modal verbs used are appropriate or not. 

1. I could learn French if I set aside more time to study.
Ans. Correct (Expresses possible ability with effort)

2. You will clean your room by tonight, or else there will be consequences!
Ans. Correct (Strong command implying future action)

3. We might go to the beach tomorrow, depending on the weather.
Ans. Correct (Expresses uncertainty about a future plan)

4. They must be exhausted after such a long journey.
Ans. Correct (Strong inference based on evidence)

5. She will prefer coffee over tea, please.
Ans. Incorrect
(Correct Ans – She would prefer coffee over tea, please. Modal verbs “would” politely expresses preference)

6. It should be sunny today, according to the forecast.
Ans.Correct (Indicates expected possibility)

7. You can’t park here, this is a reserved spot.
Ans. Correct (Prohibition with negative form of “can”)

8. He ought to apologize for his behaviour, it was disrespectful.
Ans.Correct (Emphasizes moral obligation)

9. We have to leave early to catch the bus.
Ans. Correct (Expresses necessity for an action

10. I wouldn’t recommend wearing sandals for hiking, you will get blisters.
Ans. Incorrect (Correct- I wouldn’t recommend wearing sandals for hiking, you might get blisters.)

11. It must have been a delicious cake, they ate it all in seconds!
Ans. Correct (Strong inference based on past event)

12. You could try asking for help if you’re struggling with the assignment.
Ans. Correct (Suggests potential action with effort)

13. They can borrow the car, but they must return it by ten p.m.
Ans. Correct (Permission with condition)

14. It might rain later, so bring an umbrella just in case.
Ans. Correct (Expresses conditional possibility)

15. He would have helped us if he had known we were in trouble.
Ans. Correct (Indicates hypothetical past action)

16. We ought to respect each other’s opinions, even if we disagree.
Ans. Correct (Emphasizes moral obligation)

17. May all your wishes come true.
Ans. Correct (Expressing a wish)

18. You could ask someone for directions, they might be able to help us find our way.
Ans. Correct (Suggests potential action for solving a problem)

19.They may not arrive on time, their flight got delayed due to bad weather.
Ans. Correct ( Certainty about future possibility)

20. You could try calming down by taking some deep breaths.
Ans. Correct (Suggestion)

21. You can’t litter.
Ans. Incorrect ( Correct- You must not litter or You should not litter)

22. Should I use your mobile to call my mother?
Ans. Incorrect (Correct – May I use your mobile to call my mother?)

23. My mother could speak four languages.
Ans. Incorrect (Correct – My mother can speak four languages)

24. My mother can scold me if I don’t go back on time.
Ans. Incorrect (Correct – My mother will scold me if I don’t go back on time.)

 

 
 

Conclusion

The consistent practice of modal exercises empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of language with confidence, making them adept communicators in both written and spoken contexts. These activities not only enhance one’s grasp of grammar rules but also foster a nuanced understanding of how modals function in conveying meaning and intent. Through practical exercises, learners refine their ability to express possibility, necessity, ability, and other subtle shades of meaning, thereby gaining greater precision and fluency in communication.

 

 

Also See :

Exercises of Tenses

Exercises on Prepositions

Exercises of Articles

 

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