MODALS IN SENTENCES: Using the base form of the verb after a modal

Most students are well- familiar with Modals such as can, could, might, may, must etc. Though there exists a little confusion in the use of some Modals, intermediate students surely have managed to use them in a most intelligible way as possible.

Do notuse the infinitive to with modals.

General Structure of Modal Verbs

A Modal verb is most likely followed by another verb in a sentence. Here are the rules:

  1. The verb should be in its base form. (without “to”);
  2. It should not be conjugated. (we don’t add an ‘S’ even if the subject is a third person singular);
  3. Modals are used as they are. (we don’t add an ‘S’ to a modal; we don’t say She cannots swim).

To understand this better, check the following examples:

Modals in Positive Sentences

Subject + Modal Verb + Verb (base form of the infinitive)

  • must talk to you now. (NOT: I must to talk to you now.)
  • He must talk to you now. (NOT: He must talks to you now.)
  • She must talk to you now. (NOT: She musts talk to you now.)

Modals in Negative Sentences

Subject + Modal Verb + not + Verb (base form of the infinitive)

  • You must not walk on the grass. (= You mustn’t walk on the grass.)
  • He cannot speak Arabic. (= He can’t speak Arabic.)
  • We should not be late. (= We shouldn’t be late.)

 Modals in Questions

Modal Verb + Subject + Verb (base form of the infinitive)

  • Can I carry these books for you? (NOT: Can I to carry these books for you?)
  • Could you please turn on the lights? (NOT: Could you please to turn on the light?)
  • Would you like to eat out tonight? (NOT: Wouldyou to like to eat out tonight?)

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