Saturday, 18 August 2012

Examples of Modal Verbs in Texts and Dialogues

Below are short texts and dialogues which contain all the modal verbs. I hope that exploring these examples of the use of modal verbs will help learners build their confidence in using them.

Text 1

The Story of Helen Keller, The Girl Who Could Not See, Hear or Speak

I’d like you to know the story of Helen Keller, who could neither see nor hear from the time she was a baby. Yet the brilliant girl was able to overcome all those handicaps, to graduate from a college with honors and become a useful citizen.

I must say there was nothing wrong with Helen Keller when she was born. Her father and mother were very proud of their pretty baby, who tried to say “pa-pa” and “ma-ma”.

For nineteen months Helen grew bigger and stronger. She was able to walk when she was a year old; she could say a few words.

But one day the child fell ill. She must have been very ill. For days she was laid up with a high fever and soon the parents learned that their darling would never be able to see and hear.

The little child was now doomed to a life of silence and darkness. She could not hear what was said to her and did not know how to talk, she was unable to play with other children.

When Helen was 6 years old her parents took her to Baltimore and then to Washington to famous doctors to find out if they could do something to make her hear and see again, but the doctors could do nothing. The child was hopelessly deaf. Dr. Bell said the Kellers should address the Perkins Institution for the blind in Boston and ask if they could send someone to help the child.

It was a wonderful day for Helen Keller when Ann Sullivan arrived in March 1887 to take charge of the child who could neither hear nor speak. Helen was nearly seven, Ann Sullivan was past twenty.

Ann Sullivan found a way to make herself understood. She gave the child a doll, and taking Helen Keller’s hand she slowly spelled out "d-o-l". The child learnt for the first time that things must have names.

When Miss Sullivan later spelled into the little girl’s hand the word “w-a-t-e-r” and then let the water from the pumps run over her hand, a new light seemed to brighten the face of the child. During the next 3 months, she learned 300 words and could even put some of them into sentences.
Miss Sullivan loved her pupil who was so quick to learn. She lived with Helen, played with her and worked with her every hour of the day. By means of the hand language, Helen and her teacher were able to talk to each other.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Modal Verb May


The Forms, Meanings and Use of the Modal Verb MAY (MIGHT).

May and might are modal auxiliary verb, like for example must , can  and ought. These verbs have no infinitives or participles (to may, mighted, maying do not exist), question and negatives are made without do (may I?, not Do I may?). Like other modal verbs, 'may' has no –s on the third person singular (he may, not he mays); 'may' and 'might' are followed by infinitives without to.  

Patterns. Read and memorize! 
Affirmative Interrogative Negative
I may attend lectures at the University. May I attend lectures at the University? I may not attend lectures at the University.
He may attend lectures at the University.May he attend lectures at the University? He may not attend lectures at the University.
She may attend lectures at the University.May she attend lectures at the University? She may not attend lectures at the University.
It may go.May it go? It may not go.
We may attend lectures at the University.May we attend lectures at the University? We may not attend lectures at the University.
You may attend lectures at the University.May you attend lectures at the University? You may not attend lectures at the University.
They may attend lectures at the University.May they attend lectures at the University? They may not attend lectures at the University.
Note 1: - The modal verb 'may' has two forms – may in the present and might in the past. The missing tense is supplied by the future of to be allowed to.
E. g. : I shall be allowed to attend lectures at the University.
          He was allowed to come later.

Note 2: - Contracted negative forms exist: mightn’t is common, but mayn’t is very unusual.


► Might does not normally have a past sense, but it can be used as the past tense of 'may' in 'indirect speech' to report the giving of permission.
  • 'What are you doing here?' – 'The manager said that I might look round.'
  • He said that we might take his car.