Modal auxiliary verbs can be used to convey a wide range of meanings. The table below illustrates some of the commonest, but it is by no means exhaustive.
I need interpreters in my surgery who can speak Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati.
can, could, might, ought to, should, will, would
A suitable satellite in high orbit should do it nicely.
can, could, may, might
Candidates may enter for both examinations, if desired.
Requests and invitations
can, could, may, might, will, would
Will you come with me?
Offers, promises, threats
can, could, shall, should
The Company will keep a copy of all material delivered to the Publisher.
could, may, might, should, will
It could be dangerous for anybody who knows.
must, ought to, should
No matter what else they do within the group, every volunteer must do at least one shift on the phones every fortnight.
could, might, must, ought to, should
‘Perhaps you could try waders,’ suggested Preston.
might, will, would
Every afternoon she would wake from her afternoon sleep and cry pitifully, sometimes for as long as two hours.
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