English Grammar Tutorials

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  • Chapter 9. Mood and Modal Verbs (Cont'd...)


    9.2 Modal verbs

    Some auxiliary and defective verbs are now called modal verbs, as they used to express various mode of action of verbs. The manner of speaking and the intention (will/ ability/ obligation etc.) of the speaker are throughly expressed through such verbs.

    The verbs like may, can, shall, will, need, dare, must, ought have not all the three forms; - present, past, past participle. They only have present and past forms; for this reason they are called defective verbs. Table 9.1 illustrates it.

    Table 9.1 Auxiliary/ modal/defective verbs

    Present Past Past Participle
    May might -
    Can could -
    Shall should -
    Will would -
    Must - -


    Be have dual functions. It can do the function independently i.e as a principal verb and it can help other verbs to form tense. Different irregular forms of the verb be are be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been. Except be/ being/ been, they can act principal verb and as an auxiliary verb. For example:
    I am very happy. Here `am' is principal verb.
    I am going home. Here `am' is assisting the verb to `go' to form continuous tense. So it is performing the function of an auxiliary verb.

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