What are modal verbs and how to use them in English?

Modal verbs exercises. Modal verbs Quiz

Modal verbs in practice – Test of 20 questions

Studying modal verbs in English is very important as they are used to express possibility, necessity, permission, advice and other meanings. This article offers a test on the knowledge of basic modal verbs – can/could, may/might, must/have to, should/ought to, will/would, need and others. The test consists of 20 questions in the form of sentences with gaps where you need to choose the correct modal verb from four options. The sentences cover various life situations and contexts to check your understanding of the meanings of these verbs. By taking this test, you will be able to assess your level of knowledge of modal verbs, see your strengths and weaknesses in using them. This will help you prepare more effectively for English exams, improve your grammar knowledge and enhance your practical skills.

Before starting the test, let’s review the theory.

What are modal verbs in English?

Modal verbs are a special group of auxiliary verbs in English that are used to express possibility, ability, permission, necessity and other similar meanings.

The main differences between modal verbs and common verbs:

  1. Modal verbs are not used in non-finite verb forms, i.e. in the infinitive, gerund or participle form.
  2. Modal verbs usually have only one form (they do not change).
  3. Modal verbs do not have meanings of person, number, but only of time. These meanings are taken from the infinitive that comes after them.

What are modal verbs and what are the rules for using them in English?

Now let’s review how modal verbs are used in English. For this, let’s recall general information about the use of basic modal verbs and look at examples:


Can/Could is used to express physical and mental ability, possibility, permission or request for permission.

  • For example: I can speak 3 languages. We could meet at 6 pm tomorrow. Can I take a day off? Could you help me move house?

Can is used for the present or future.

  • For example: I can help you now. I can meet you tomorrow.

Couldis used when we talk about the past, as well as for polite requests/questions.

  • For example: I could swim very well when I was young. Could you pass me the salt please?


May/Might – expresses possibility or probability.

  • For example: It may rain later today. She might be late for the meeting.

May is used to express a greater probability.

  • For example: It may rain later.

Might is used to express a lesser probability.

  • For example: She might be late.

Must/Have to

Must/Have to – to indicates necessity, obligation.

  • For example: I must finish this report today. You have to renew your passport.

Must is used to emphasize duty.

  • For example: You must stop when the light is red.

Have to is used when we simply state the fact of necessity, without emotional emphasis.

  • For example: We have to pay bills by the 5th.

Should/Ought to

Should/Ought to – to is used to give advice, recommendations. These forms are often interchangeable. Should is more common. Should is used as advice or recommendation. Ought to sounds more formal and literary and is often used in negative sentences.

  • For example: You should see a doctor. We ought to recycle more.


Will/Would – expresses future actions, willingness to do something, suggestions.

  • For example: I will help you with your homework. I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant.

Will is used for future events and promises.

  • For example: The train will arrive soon. I will call you tomorrow.

Would is used for polite suggestions, conditional sentences.

  • For example: Would you like some tea? I would help if I could.


Need/Needn’t – indicates necessity or its absence.

  • For example: You needn’t come if you don’t want to. We need to talk.

Need is used to express necessity.

  • For example: I need to charge my phone.

Needn’t is used when there is no need to do something.

  • For example: You needn’t bring any food.

Remember the meanings of these modal verbs and the specifics of their use, this will help you successfully pass the tests and improve your English.

Test to check knowledge of modal verbs in English

We do not limit you in the number of attempts, do not require registration, do not collect any personal data, as our main goal is to help you learn English. So if at first you made a few mistakes, it’s normal, who doesn’t make mistakes doesn’t achieve anything. Try again and you will succeed. Never give up!

Modal verbs exercises. Modal verbs Quiz

Practice. Modal verbs (ELEMENTARY, PRE-INTERMEDIATE) - Test (20 questions)

I _____ not have time to phone you this evening.

If you don’t feel better you _____ go to bed.

You _____ go near that dog! It’s very dangerous.

When I was a child I_____ drink a lot of milk.

A: I’ve got toothache.

B: You’d _____ go to the dentist.

You _____ get the 8.30 train. It doesn’t stop at Yorkshire.

I’ll_____ go now.

_____ careful! You are making mistakes.

A: She can’t sing.

B: Neither_____.

A: Will the director be back in the office today?

B: He said he _____ be, but he wasn’t sure.

Take a sweater with you. It_____ get cold later.

We _____ play football today because it is raining.

It’s very cold. You _____ to put a sweater on.

A: _____.
B: Yes, please. Can I give you the money now?

A: _____.

B: I’m sorry, but I haven’t got my car.

He probably _____ be back in time for dinner.

Good morning sir, what _____ I do for you?

A: Is this a 24 bus coming?

B: It__ be. I can’t see the number yet.

Betty has a temperature. She _____ be ill.

We _____ to stop pollution.

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