can, could, might, may, would, should, ought to, had better, must, have to, need to, will


should    –     ought to     –     had better

should = best option when there are 2 or more options

You should eat a salad for lunch.  It’s lunchtime.  You can eat a salad or cookies.  SaladWhich one is the best option?  Eating the salad is better for your health and nutrition than eating cookies.  So, you should choose to eat the salad.

Everyone should exercise a few times each week.  You have the option of going outside and running today or staying at home and being lazy.  It would be better to go outside and run for exercise.  So, you should go running.  (photo: jogging)


IMG_3741Use should or should not in the following sentences about the weather:

You are going to go outside and your mother looks out the window to check the weather before you leave.  She says,

1. “You _______________________________________________.”


Now the weather looks like itIMG_0943 has improved and it is sunny out.  It looks like this:

You decide you are going to leave your house and your mother says to you,

2. “You _______________________________________________.”


ought to = should  (same meaning)

John doesn’t have a lot of money.  He has a job, though.  John ought to go to work to earn money.


had better = should (same meaning)Phone - Sad face

Indigo and Savanna are friends.  Savanna’s grandmother died yesterday.  Indigo had better call Savanna and offer her condolences.

must    –     have to     –     need to

must = only one option, no choice

In some countries, students must wear a uniform to school.  These students cannot wear jeans or T-shirts to school.  They don’t have a choice with what they wear.       (photo: uniformed students)

If you have a pet, IMG_2147like a dog, you must feed the dog everyday.
  You cannot deny your dog food or water – it would be cruel and you might be arrested.



have to = must (same meaning)

Do I have to bring my driver’s license to apply for the job?  -No, but you will have to bring it to the interview.  (photo: driver’s license held out of focus, face in focus)

need to = must (same meaning)

We don’t have a place to live.  We need to find an apartment or a house soon.  Let’s start looking in the newspaper in the “classifieds” section.  Classifieds


might, may

might = It is possible, but I don’t know what will happen.  Maybe yes, maybe no.


can, could

can = ability to do something.  It is possible.

For example:      –Can you speak English?    -Yes, I can.     or   –Can you speak English?     –……….(silence)



would – (Conditional):

I don’t have any money.  I will not get paidIMG_3111 until tomorrow afternoon.  Now I’m really hungry.  I would go to the market and buy some fruit if I had money.


must, have to, need to



 More exercises with modals:

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