Learn These 30 Words to Express Modality

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When it comes to expressing certainty, possibility, or necessity in language, modality is a key concept. Modal words help us communicate not just what we think, but how we feel about what we’re saying. These words infuse our statements with shades of probability, obligation, or permission, making our communication richer and more nuanced. This blog post explores 30 essential modal words, each defined and exemplified to help you grasp their use and integrate them into your daily language effectively.

List of Words That Express Modality

Here is the words that Express Modality;

  1. Can
  2. Could
  3. May
  4. Might
  5. Will
  6. Would
  7. Shall
  8. Should
  9. Must
  10. Ought to
  11. Need to
  12. Has to
  13. Have to
  14. Dare
  15. Needn’t
  16. Mightn’t
  17. Couldn’t
  18. Wouldn’t
  19. Isn’t likely to
  20. Is supposed to
  21. Is able to
  22. Is bound to
  23. Seems
  24. Appears
  25. Is possible
  26. Is probable
  27. Is certain
  28. Is necessary
  29. Is permitted
  30. Is required

Words to Express Modality

1. Can

Meaning: Indicates the ability to do something or possibility.

Example: I can speak three languages fluently.

2. Could

Meaning: Used as the past tense of “can”; also expresses possibility or a polite request.

Example: Could you please help me with this?

3. May

Meaning: Expresses possibility or permission.

Example: You may enter the room now.

4. Might

Meaning: Indicates a slight possibility.

Example: It might rain later today.

5. Will

Meaning: Expresses future intention or a strong likelihood.

Example: She will finish the project by tomorrow.

6. Would

Meaning: Used to express a conditional mood or a polite request.

Example: Would you like some coffee?

7. Shall

Meaning: Formal way to express future actions or obligations (often used in legal or formal contexts).

Example: The company shall pay the invoices within 30 days.

8. Should

Meaning: Indicates obligation, advisability, or expectation.

Example: You should check the oil level in your car regularly.

9. Must

Meaning: Expresses necessity or compulsion.

Example: You must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.

10. Ought to

Meaning: Similar to “should,” but slightly less forceful; indicates a recommendation or expectation.

Example: You ought to see a doctor if the pain persists.

11. Need to

Meaning: Expresses necessity.

Example: We need to leave now to catch the train.

12. Has to

Meaning: Indicates a requirement or necessity.

Example: He has to finish his homework before he can go out.

13. Have to

Meaning: Similar to “must,” expresses necessity.

Example: I have to attend the meeting at five.

14. Dare

Meaning: To have the courage to do something (often used in questions or negative forms).

Example: I dare not ask him about it.

15. Needn’t

Meaning: Indicates a lack of necessity.

Example: You needn’t worry about me; I’ll be fine.

16. Mightn’t

Meaning: Indicates a slight possibility that something won’t happen.

Example: You mightn’t find it interesting, but it’s worth a try.

17. Couldn’t

Meaning: Past negative form of “can”; indicates impossibility.

Example: I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

18. Wouldn’t

Meaning: Past negative form of “will”; indicates refusal or improbability in the past.

Example: She wouldn’t accept the offer, despite the benefits.

19. Isn’t likely to

Meaning: Indicates low probability.

Example: He isn’t likely to come due to the heavy snow.

20. Is supposed to

Meaning: Indicates expectation or intended purpose.

Example: You are supposed to wear a uniform at work.

21. Is able to

Meaning: Indicates capability.

Example: She is able to solve complex problems quickly.

22. Is bound to

Meaning: Indicates an inevitable action or outcome.

Example: If you work hard, you are bound to succeed.

23. Seems

Meaning: Suggests a perceived condition or appearance, often reflecting uncertainty.

Example: He seems tired today.

24. Appears

Meaning: Similar to “seems”; used to describe how something seems based on visible evidence.

Example: It appears to be broken.

25. Is possible

Meaning: Indicates that something can happen.

Example: It is possible that the conference will be postponed.

26. Is probable

Meaning: Indicates that something is likely to happen.

Example: It is probable that they will arrive late.

27. Is certain

Meaning: Indicates absolute certainty or inevitability.

Example: It is certain that the sun will rise tomorrow.

28. Is necessary

Meaning: Indicates something essential or inevitable.

Example: It is necessary to have a passport to travel internationally.

29. Is permitted

Meaning: Indicates allowed actions or behaviors.

Example: Smoking is permitted only in designated areas.

30. Is required

Meaning: Indicates a condition that must be fulfilled.

Example: Participation in the training program is required for all new employees.

Words to Express Modality


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