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Language Functions & Modals 1 - Modals - Func. Grammar
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Language Functions for INTERACTING with people & Modal Verbs
By michelle (2007, rev. 2008)

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Language Function


Examples: Present/Future Meaning

Other expressions

Making suggestions/proposals


When you get here, we could go to the Prado museum
We can do it now, if you want to.

How about (+ -ing) …?
Let’s (+ bare inf.) …
Why don’t we …?
Wouldn’t you fancy (+ -ing)…?

Inviting someone

Would (you like to) …?

Would you like to join us?
Would you like a coffee?

Can I buy you a drink?
Shall we dance?

Offering yourself to do something for people

Shall (I/we) …?

Shall I start?
Shall we call them?

Do you need a hand?
Can I help you?

Asking someone to do something for you

Will (you) …?

Will you switch the light on?
Will you excuse me a second?

Can you …? / Could you…?


Could (I) …?
Could (you) …?
Can (I) …?
Can (you) …?
I’d (like to) …

Could I have a ticket to Paris?
Could I have a coffee?
Could you tell me the way to the station?
Can I call you at six?
Can you water the plants for me?
I’d like to have a beer.

Do you mind if I smoke?
Do you mind it if we leave now?
Do you mind buying some bread, too?

Asking for permission


Could I borrow your pen?
Can I go to the party, mom?
May I use your pen?

Are they allowed to go to the party, then?

-telling sb sth is not allowed
-reporting on existing rule/law
-danger/risk/being angry

Not be allowed to…

You can’t park here, mom.
You are not allowed to park here, mom.
You mustn’t cross when the lights are red!!! You almost got killed!


Giving strong advice
Censuring morally*


You should try, at least!
You shouldn’t park where you actually can’t!!! / aren’t actually allowed to!


Giving advice


You should wear the blue coat – you look really smart!
You should call him/her – I bet he/she’ll love to hear from you!
I wouldn’t do that.
I’d call him/her. I’d tell him/her…

If I were you, I’d …

Recommending something
Recom. sth. emphatically!


You should read this book
You MUST read this book! The story is gripping!

Here! Read it!

Expressing need

Have to
Need to

I have to go now
I need to go to the toilet


Expressing lack of need

Don’t have to

You don’t have to bring anything to the party, thanks
You needn’t have brought anything. Thanks!


Expressing obligation or lack of obligation

Have to
‘ve got to
(I/we) must
(moral oblig.)
to be supposed to (moral oblig.)

I have to go to work/school every weekday
We don’t have to do this exercise
What do we have to do now?
What are we supposed to do now?
We’ve got to leave now if we don’t want to be late
I MUST stop saying bad things to myself!
I MUST get up NOW! I’ll be late!
We’re supposed to subscribe to this pod
We’re  supposed to have finished unit 5


Deduction, Possibility
Negative deduction
Guessing reasons, situations
Indicating possibilities
Imagining possibilities


(The phone’s ringing) It must be Pixie
It can’t be her! She’s at an exam now!
What happened here?! It must’ve been the wind!
The teacher may/could be downstairs
I may go to the party - I’m not sure yet.
He might have changed her mind by tomorrow.
She must be downstairs now
I can’t find it. I might have lost it!
Oh wait! I might have it here!

I suppose she’s downstairs
I think/believe/imagine she’s downstairs