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.

Helen learned to read books that were printed for the blind with raised letters. She also learned to use the typewriter to write what she wanted to say.

When Helen was 10 she was determined that she would learn to speak.
At first she learned only the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, but soon she was able to say words and sentences.

In the story of her life Helen Keller writes, “I shall never forget the surprise and delight I felt when I uttered my first connected sentence: “It is warm.”

At first she had much difficulty with her speech, but Ann Sullivan understood what Helen trying to say. Helen practised speaking day after day until at last she developed a clear voice.

Later she was able to speak before large crowds which came to hear her whenever she lectured.

At the age of 20 Helen Keller passed all the difficult entrance examinations to Radcliffe College. Helen did extremely well in her classes and was able to keep up with the other students. Helen wrote “The Story of My Life” while she was in college. In her writings and lectures Helen did everything she could to help and encourage others who were blind.

(From "Short Stories of Famous Women")

Text 2

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch. I read all I came to read and then I began to study diseases, generally, turning the leaves idly.

I came to typhoid fever, read the symptoms and discovered I must have had it for months without knowing it. Cholera I had with severe complications and diphtheria I must have been born with. I was relieved to find that Bright’s disease I had only in a modified form and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. The only disease I could conclude I had not got was housemaid’s knee.

I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view. I was hospital in myself. All students need do would be to walk round me and after that take their diploma.

I tried to feel my heart. I could not feel my heart. I think now that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but cannot account for it.

I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man, I crawled out a decrepit wreck.

(After "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome)


Dialogue 1.  A Visit to London

A: What do you think I ought to see in London first?

B: Well, historical places, I think. You should go to Westminster Abbey, and if you can, go to the Houses of Parliament and the National Gallery.
A: And what about the British Museum? I was told one ought to see it.

B: I suppose you must go there. There you can find masterpieces of the world’s best artists.

A: How can I get to the centre?

B: I think you can go by steamer down the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge. That’s a very pleasant way to travel, and you can see London bridges and quite a number of buildings on the way.

Dialogues 2. Asking the Way

A: Excuse me. Can you tell me where South Street is, please?
B: Take the second turning on the left and then ask again.
A: Is it far?
B: No, you can walk it under ten minutes.
A: Thanks very much.
B: It’s a pleasure.

A: Excuse me, please. Could you tell me how to get to the town centre?
B: First right, second left. You can’t miss it.
A: Thank you.
B: That’s OK.

A: Does this bus go to the station?
B: No, you’ll have to get off at the bank, and take 178.
A: Can you tell me where to get off?
B: It’s the next stop.

A: Is this the right bus for the Town Hall?
B: No, you should have caught a 12. Get off at the bridge and get one there.
A: Could you tell me when we get there?
B: It’s the next stop but one.

Dialogues 3. Shopping

A: Let’s go shopping. I have got quite a number of things to buy, and I believe I can get them all in this shop. You see, I ought to buy a present for my friend. She has invited me to her birthday. What shall we look at first?

B: Gloves, I think. They must be on the ground floor. Yes, here we are, and I can see just the kind I want.

A: Well, that didn’t take us long, now let’s go up by the escalator to the third floor.

B: We’ll just take a quick look around to see if there is anything we could take back as presents for the family.

A: I like these books, and do you? Shall we ask how much they are?

B: I want to get a comb and some hair clips. Where do you think I can find them?

A: Oh, you must go to the haberdashery department. That’s on a lower floor, I believe. We’ll get them on our way out.

B: How do you like those white shoes just over there, on the right?

A: I like them very much, indeed. They are perfect for summer wear.

B: Do you think they’re my size? They look just about right.

A: You should try them on.

A: Do you think I should buy this camera?
B: I think it’s too expensive. You should find a cheaper one – you aren’t a professional, are you?

A: Where are you going?
B: I must do some shopping.
A: What will you buy?
B: I must buy some food. We’ve got nothing for dinner.

Dialogue 4. At  Lunch

A: Another piece of cherry pie?
B: No, thanks. I’m on a diet.
A: Please, do. You’ve hardly eaten anything.
B: It’s delicious, but I don’t think I ought to.

Dialogues 5. In a Restaurant

Waiter: Can I take your order, sir?
Mr. X: Haddock and chips for me, please.


Waiter: May I take your order, sir?
Mr. N: Yes, I’d like to try the steak, please.

Dialogue 6

A: I mustn’t forget to phone John.
B: Why?
A:  It’s his birthday tomorrow.

Dialogue 7

A: You look tired. What’s the matter?
B: It’s been a very hard week.
A: You should have a good rest during the weekend.

Dialogue 8

A: What time do you think we should go home?
B: If the weather keeps fine we should stay in the country till Sunday night.

Dialogue 9

A: Can you skate?
B: Yes, I can, a little. Can you?
A: No, I’m afraid, I can’t, but I can ski rather well.

Dialogue 10

A: Can you come to the party tomorrow?
B: I am not sure I’ll be able to join you, I am very busy mow.