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Modal Verb Will Would

What are modals and their uses? How do you use modals in a sentence? Why do we use modal verbs? Shall versus Will?

Modal verbs – will/would


1) We use modal verbs to show if we believe something is certain, probable or possible (or not). We also use modals to ask permission, make requests and offers etc.

Modal verbs fall into the category of auxiliary verbs (also known as helping verbs). It means that they are used together with a main verb to give grammatical information and additional meaning to a sentence.

2) We normally use will to speak about the future, though it is also classified as a modal verb. We use the modal verb will and the base form of the verb to form sentences. Questions are formed by inverting the subject and will. Negatives are formed with not. Contracted forms are used (won’t).

We can use the modal verb will:

a) to express rapid decision.

Which one? – Hmm, I will have the tuna sandwich.

b) to express thoughts or beliefs about the future.

I think they will remain friends forever.

c) to make an offer, a promise, or a threat.

I will not disappoint you!

d) to talk about predictable behaviour.

He will eat chocolate when he feels anxious.

Note that we use won’t when someone refuses to do something.

I tried reassuring him, but he won’t listen to me.

We use the modal verb would and the base form of the verb to form sentences. Questions are formed by inverting the subject and would. Negatives are formed with not.

We can use the modal verb would:

a) as a polite invitation or to offer.

Would you like to spend this evening together with me?

b) to describe a prediction.

It would be nice to be a little bit funnier.

c) not to sound impolite when disagreeing with someone.

I wouldn’t put it like that.

d) to describe past habits.

She would fall asleep when she was on a train.

Note that we use wouldn’t when someone refused to do something.

James said that he wouldn’t help us at all.

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