Modals for ability, possibility

Modals are auxiliary verbs that are used to indicate modality, which refers to the speaker’s attitude towards the action or event described by the main verb. Here is an overview of modals for ability and possibility:

  1. Modals for ability: The modals “can,” “could,” “be able to,” and “be able to” indicate ability or the possibility of performing an action. “Can” and “could” are used to indicate present or past ability, while “be able to” can indicate ability in the present or future.


  • I can speak Spanish fluently. (Present ability)
  • He could run a mile in under five minutes when he was younger. (Past ability)
  • I will be able to finish the project by tomorrow. (Future ability)
  1. Modals for possibility: The modals “may,” “might,” and “could” indicate possibility or the likelihood of an event occurring. “May” is used to indicate present or future possibility, while “might” and “could” can indicate possibility in the present, past, or future.


  • I may go to the party tonight. (Present possibility)
  • It might rain tomorrow. (Future possibility)
  • They could have missed the train. (Past possibility)

It’s important to note that modals can be used in different ways and in different contexts, so it’s important to practice and study these modals in different examples and contexts. Reading widely, paying attention to the different modals in the texts you read, and practicing using these modals in your own writing and speaking will help you to improve your skills over time.



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