Grammar GuideVerbsWhat form of verb should you use after modal verbs?

What form of verb should you use after modal verbs?

What form of verb should you use after modal verbs?

Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verb. They show ability, possibility, obligation, and permission. Examples of modal verbs are can, could, may, must, should, and would.

When you use this type of verb, the verb that follows it must be in its base form. Do not conjugate the verb after a modal verb into a specific form.

Example 1:

  • Correct: She can draw a horse.
  • Incorrect: She can draws a horse.

Example 2:

  • Correct: They might go to the movies.
  • Incorrect: They might to go to the movies.

    Auxiliary verbs are verbs that can change the tense, modality, voice, or other features of an action verb.

You might have learned that auxiliary verbs are called “helping verbs.” Modal verbs are a specific type of auxiliary verb. They are used to denote permission, obligation, ability, or possibility.

Modal verbs never change their form depending on the mood or tense. They do not have an infinitive, a past participle, or a present participle.

Here are the most common modal verbs:

  • can
  • may
  • must
  • could
  • should
  • would

The verbs that follow modal verbs should only be in their base form. They should never be conjugated into another form, including the infinitive.

If the phrase be able to is used after a modal verb or as a modal verb phrase, the base form of the verb should follow to. It looks like an infinitive, but to is part of the modal verb phrase.

Example with can:

  • Correct: We can eat leftovers for dinner.
  • Incorrect: We can to eat leftovers for dinner.

Example with may:

  • Correct: I may apply for a new job this year.
  • Incorrect: I may applying for a new job this year.

Example with must:

  • Correct: He must call in if he’s going to miss work.
  • Incorrect: He must calls in if he’s going to miss work.

Example with could:

  • Correct: By the time she was a year old, she could walk.
  • Incorrect: By the time she was a year old, she could walked.

Example with should:

  • Correct: I should leave for work now.
  • Incorrect: I should to leave for work now.

Example with would:

  • Correct: She would never lie to me!
  • Incorrect: She would never lies to me!

Example with be able to:

  • Correct: She was able to help me with my homework.
  • Incorrect: She was able to helped me with my homework.
Test yourself

Choose the missing word in each question.