THE MODAL VERBS

 

CAN - MAY - MUST

 

NO -s

after

he, she, it

He can speak English.

She may go there.

It must sleep now.

 

NO

do, does

in questions

and negation

Can you come? Sorry, I cannot.

May he come to your party?

No, he must not.

She can not come at 10.

 

Note: As modal verbs don’t have a past form (except can) and a past participle (3rd form) you can only use them with the present tense. When you use other tenses you have to replace them:

 

Ersatzformen: can to be able to
must have to
may to be allowed to

 

CAN – TO BE ABLE TO

I can drive. = I am able to drive.

Present tense Past tense Present perfect Will - future
I am able to drive. was able to drive. have been able to drive. will be able to drive.
He, she, it is able to drive. was able to drive. has been able to drive. will be able to drive.
You, we, they are able to drive. were able to drive. have been able to drive. will be able to drive.

MUST – HAVE TO

I must learn. = I have to learn.

Present tense Past tense Present perfect Will – future
I, you, we, they have to learn. had to learn. have had to learn. will have to learn.
He, she, it has to learn. had to learn. has had to learn. will have to learn.

MAY – BE ALLOWED TO

I may go out – I am allowed to go out

Present tense Past tense Present perfect Will – future
I am allowed to go out. was allowed to go out. have been allowed to go out. will be allowed to go out.
he, she, it is allowed to go out. was allowed to go out. has been allowed to go out. will be allowed to go out.
you, we, they are allowed to go out. were allowed to go out. have been allowed to go out. will be allowed to go out.

 

NOTE:

I may Ich darf

I must not Ich darf nicht

I must Ich muss

I need not Ich muss nicht

 

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