Printable Handout: Modals

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Instructions: Choose the correct answer.

Q1 - You should know better
The speaker is giving a negative opinion of the other person's behaviour now
The speaker is giving a negative opinion of the other person's behaviour in the past
Q2 - I shan't tell her
The person has already decided not to tell her
The person is making a promise
Q3 - You must do it
The speaker is not the source of authority
The speaker is the source of authority
Q4 - May I come in?
The speaker is asking for permission to come in
The speaker is asking about their ability to come in
Q5 - 'Is that the doorbell?' 'That'll be Jim.'
The speaker is not sure if it's Jim because she hasn't seen him
The speaker is fairly sure it is Jim because he always arrives at the same time
Q6 - You'd better hurry
This is an order
This is a strong suggestion
Q7 - If I hadn't broken my wrist, I'd be playing in the volleball finals
The finals have already been played
The finals haven't been played yet
Q8 - I ought to leave
OUGHT TO means the same as SHOULD
OUGHT TO is stronger than SHOULD
Q9 - I ought to tell him
OUGHT TO is not as strong as HAD BETTER
OUGHT TO is stronger than HAD BETTER
Q10 - You needn't have done all that inputting alone
The person did the inputting alone
The person isn't going to do the inputting alone now
Q11 - He can't speak Dutch
The person is not allowed to speak Dutch
The person is not able to speak Dutch
Q12 - He might be there when you get there
There is a possibility that the person will be there
The person definitely will be there
Q13 - Surely, she can't have finished already!
The speaker is surprised and finds it hard to believe
The speaker is stating an absolute fact
Q14 - You needn't have bothered filling in all those forms
The person filled in the forms
The person didn't fill the forms in
Q15 - You oughtn't to have spoken to them like that
The speaker is referring to the present moment
The speaker is referring to the past
Q16 - I didn't dare go inside
The person lacked the courage to go in
The person wasn't allowed to go in
Q17 - We couldn't swim yesterday
The speaker wants to tell us that he and his friends did not know how to swim
The speaker wants to tell us that something stopped them from swimming
Q18 - You ought to try to phone her on her birthday
'Ought to' is stronger than 'should'
'Ought to' is as strong as 'should'
Q19 - You might have been killed!
The speaker is probably angry with the person
The speaker is pleased that the person was in danger
Q20 - I should be home by around nine so I'll see you then
The speaker has a fairly good idea of the time he'll be home, but is not 100% sure
The speaker is under a moral obligation to get home by nine o'clock
Q21 - You could hurt yourself
The speaker is giving permission to the other person
The speaker is warning the other person of a danger
Q22 - You have to get everything ready before the end of the day
The speaker is not the source of authority
The speaker is the source of authority

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