A challenge for many English language learners are the modal verbs. The modal verbs are:
All modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, which means they can only be used WITH a main verb. Modal verbs cannot, however, BE a main verb. This means they go with other verbs and help add to the meaning of a message. In this article, we’ll be focusing on would, should, and could.
When would we use modal verbs? When could we use modal verbs? When should we use modal verbs? Let’s get started.
Would is used to show preference, to communicate a wish, or to give advice.
|Preference||I would prefer a queen room please.
Would you prefer a queen room?
|Wish||I would like to go swimming today.
Would you like to go swimming?
|Advice||If I were you, I’d have the red wine with your steak.
Would you have the red wine or the white wine with the steak?
Use could for possibilities in the future, or to make polite requests.
|Possibility||A: Do you have any ideas for us to do today?
B: You could go down to the beach or take a walk in the forest. If you like to golf, I could make you a tee time.
|Request||Could you please show me your identification?
Could I get you another drink?
Should is often used to give an opinion, to make a suggestion, or to express a preference or an idea. Be careful with “should”! Often you can come across as demanding or too forceful when giving advice. When recommending something to a guest, it’s often better to use other less strong modal verbs, such as may, could or might.
|Opinion||You should drink water on a hot day.|
|Suggestion||You should be at the airport at least two hours before boarding when flying international.
You should take the train downtown. There’s so much traffic!
|Preference/ idea||You should have the red wine with your steak.|
I hope that helps clear up when to use would, should and could… and remember…
- It would be nice if you left a comment below
- You could always just say hi in the comments section
- You should leave a comment with any questions 🙂