Possibility or certainty, must, may, could, might, can't, British Council


We use modal verbs (must, may, could, might, can't) to show how certain we are about something.We use 'must' when we are almost certain about something - 'must + infinitive without to':That must be Jack. He always rings at this time.The past of 'must' is 'must have + past participle':He must have finished work by now. He must be on his way home.'May' is used to say that something is a possibility - 'may + infinitive without to':I'm going to fill the bath. Jack may want a bath when he arrives. He sometimes does.The past of 'may' is 'may have + past participle':He may have had a shower before he left work.'Could' is like 'may':I suppose he could have spent the day in the office, so he may not want a bath.'Might' is used to say something is possible but we think it's unlikely - 'might + infinitive without to':Of course, he might stop at the pub for a drink on his way home. He sometimes does, but he didn't say so on the phone.The past of 'might' is 'might have done / been':He's very late. He might have had an accident, although he's a very careful driver.We use 'can't' to say we think something is impossible and we have evidence for thinking this. 'Can't' is the negative of 'must' - 'can't + infinitive without to':He can't be at the cinema. He never goes to the cinema without taking me.The past of 'can't' is 'can't have + past participle':He can't have gone with someone else. He wouldn't dare!

modals Possibility, modals of certainty, must, may, could, might, can't, Johnny Grammar, British Council video lessons
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