Using modal auxiliaries

February 19, 2013pdf

Modal auxiliaries are used to express a wide variety of meanings in English. For example, they can be used to defend arguments and explain preferences.

Modal auxiliaries cannot be used alone. They are added to the base form of verbs in order to express possibility, ability, desire etc.

Forms of the infinitive

The infinitive is the base form of the verb. Infinitives can be in the active or passive form.

The table given below shows the active and passive forms of the infinitive ‘take’ in different tense forms.

Form Active Passive
Simple To take To be taken
Continuous To be taking ………………………….
Perfect To have taken To have been taken
Perfect continuous To have been taking ………………………….

 

Active and passive forms of infinitive take without to

Form Active Passive
Simple Take Be taken
Continuous Be taking ……………………….
Perfect Have taken Have been taken
Perfect continuous Have been taking ……………………….

 

By adding a modal auxiliary verb to the base form of the infinitive, we can form a verb.

Using the modals may and might

The modals might and may both show possibility. The express indecision or uncertainty about present, future, or past actions or states.

Simple

Might take / might be taken

May take / may be taken

  • I may take a vacation sometime soon.
  • I might take a break now.

This sentence can refer to both present and future time.

Simple continuous

Might be taking

May be taking

  • John isn’t in his office. He might be taking a break.

Perfect

Might have taken / might have been taken

May have taken / may have been taken

  • I might have taken the wrong decision.

This sentence refers to the past.

Perfect continuous

Might have been taking

May have been taking

  • Susie wasn’t home when I called. She might have been taking a rest.

This sentence refers to the past.

Free Grammar Guide: "120 Deadly Grammar and Vocabulary Mistakes."