Infinitives and gerunds – Modal auxiliary verbs

English modal verbs: can, could, will, would, may, might, must, shall, should

Their negatives: can’t, couldn’t, won’t (will not), wouldn’t, may not, might not, mustn’t, shan’t (shall not), shouldn’t

Other verbs or expressions that often function the same as modal verbs: ought to, have to, not have to, need to, need not, had better, had better not, dare

Normal verbs

Normal verbs are usually actions; things that you can actually see somebody doing, and they can be used in all tenses.

Forms of normal verbs

I will refer to the simplest form of a verb, as a root verb.

Examples of root verbs: eat, sleep, run, cook, think, feel

I will refer to the form “to+root verb” as an infinitive.

Examples of infinitives: to eat, to sleep, to run, to cook, to think, to feel

I will refer to a verb ending with “-ing” as a gerund.

Examples of gerunds: eating, sleeping, running, cooking, thinking, feeling


modal verbs, nonjabulo tshabalala


Modal verbs can only be followed by root verbs.

modal verb + root verb




Usher can sing and dance at the same time. = (can + root verb)

I can’t complete this task alone. = (can’t + root verb)

I’m sure that he would agree if you asked him politely. = (would + root verb)

You should see a doctor as soon as possible. = (should + root verb)

You may use my desk while I am away. = (may + root verb)

There’s a good chance that she might change her mind. = (might + root verb)

Oleg must fetch the parcel instead of David. = (must + root verb)

We shall investigate the matter further. = (shall + root verb)

You had better walk faster, or you will certainly be late. = (had better + root verb)

You ought to call and let us know if you will not be able to make it on time. = (ought to + root verb)



I can’t to complete this task alone. = (modal + infinitive)

I can’t completing this task alone. = (modal + gerund)

You should to see a doctor as soon as possible. = (modal + infinitive)

You should seeing a doctor as soon as possible. = (modal + gerund)





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