Did you notice the modal verbs in the caption above? How good are you at using modals? (Will, might, could, should, would, must, can, et al.) Can you use them easily when you're having a conversation or when you're writing?
- We MIGHT GO to the beach this weekend.
- You SHOULD COME to the party.
- She MUST LIKE ice cream. She ate the whole tub.
Remember that modals are always followed by the base form of the verb, so never use 'had' right after a modal when talking about the past; always use HAVE + the past participle.
- I didn't see them at the party; they MIGHT HAVE GONE home before I got there.
- You SHOULD HAVE COME to the party. It was so much fun!
- She looked happy when she saw your present. She MUST HAVE LIKED it a lot.
- Everyone MUST HAVE an I.D. to enter the building. (must = obligation)
- You MUST BE tired. You just worked 16 hours straight. (must = certainty; logical conclusion)
- WOULD you HELP me? (would = please, kindly)
- When we were kids, we WOULD go to the beach every summer and play in the surf all day. (would = actions in the past that we don't do anymore; often used with "used to")
- If she were the mayor, she WOULD CLEAN UP the subway tracks. (would = likely to happen if the situation were true; used with the second conditional)
- I SHOULD HAVE GONE to bed early.
- I SHOULDN'T HAVE STAYED UP playing video games.
- I SHOULD HAVE TOLD my friend I couldn't hang out with him last night.
- I SHOULDN'T HAVE STARTED watching the movie at 11pm. I COULD HAVE WAITED until this weekend.
- He MUST BE rich.
- He MUST LIKE the color red.
- He MUST ENJOY driving fast.
- He MUST BE a doctor or a lawyer or a successful businessman, or...
- He COULD BE someone's driver, or ...
- The Ferarri COULD BE his friend's.
- "He MAY HAVE GONE to the park."
Instead of saying, "It is better if you take the train," you can say,
- "You SHOULD TAKE the train."
Instead of saying, "I feel bad because I didn't do my homework," you can say,
- "I SHOULD HAVE DONE my homework."
There you have it, folks! Keep these tips in mind, practice, and soon you will be useful modal verbs like a natural! :-) Any questions? As us here below, at NYLC's Facebook page, or on Twitter @NYLangCenter. Use #ilovenylc.
-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor