Monday, April 20, 2009

Modal auxiliaries : CAN and MAY

In this lesson we are introducing Modal Auxiliaries+

Auxiliaries are divided into Primary Auxiliaries and Modal Auxiliaries Primary auxiliaries are three in number--Have, Do and Be
They change their form according to the number and person of tje subject Examples;

*I am going to the school.

*She is going to the school.

*They are going to the school.

Modal Auxiliaries express the mood of the speaker They convey possibility, doubt,supposition , uncertainty. determination . surety and so on They do not change their form according to the subject of the sentence .

The use of CAN

*Can expresses ability, and this auxiliary is equivalent to "is able to "

I can play the violin.

I am able to play the violin.

Please note that when can denotes ability its future tense is "will be able to"
Example :

You will be able to drive a car when you are older.

*Can sometimes expresses permission .and it is equivalent to "is permitted to" Example:

You can leave now.

You are permitted to leave now.

Please note that when can is used in this sense the future tense is can itself . Example:

You can do it tomorrow .

* Another use of can is to show a latent possibility or a possibility that is conceded. Example:

Dogs can be dangerous>.

The past tense of CAN

CAN has two past forms : could and "was able to "Could is used when we refer to the ability or capacity. Example:

She could sing when she was young.

"Was able to " is used when we refer to the performance or achievement of something through the ability or capacity . Examples:

She was able to reach the finish line in time .

He was able to save her from drowning .

The modal auxiliary MAY

May is used to express Permission or possibility

You may go (permission)

Please note that when permission is denied we say "can't"In other words the opposite of may is can't ! Example

May I use your car?

No, you can't!(we don't say mayn't!)

When may shows possibility it is stressed in spoken English Example

The train may be late by a few minutes.

We will discuss the remaining modal auxiliaries in the next posts .

Thank you

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