First, review modal verbs – today you’ll need them to talk about ability, permission and instructions.
- The modal verbs are can, could, may, might, shall, should, will and would.
- We use can to talk about someone’s skill or general abilities: She can speak swim.
- We use can to talk about the ability to do something at a given time in the present or future: You can survive without food for a few days.
- We use could to talk about past time: She could swim before she could walk.
- We use could have to say that someone had the ability/opportunity to do something, but did not do it: She could have learned judo, but she didn’t have time.
- We use can to ask for permission to do something: Can I have some water, please?
- could is more formal and polite than can: Could I have some please?
- may is another more formal and polite way of asking for permission: May I have some water please?
- We use can to give permission: You can erect the tent now if you want.
- may is a more formal and polite way of giving permission: You may light the fire, if you like.
- We use can to say that someone has permission to do something: We can go back to camp whenever we want.
- may is a more formal and polite way of saying that someone has permission: Hikers may use the hut for free.
- We use could you and would you as polite ways of telling or asking someone to do something: Could you take the rope please?
- can and will are less polite: Can you take the rope please?
- We use should to make suggestions and give advice: You should stay safe.
- We use could to make suggestions: We could shout for help.
- We use conditionals to give advice: Dan will help you if you ask him.
- Past tenses are more polite: Dan would help you if you asked him.
- We use can I… and to make offers: Can I help you?
- We can also use shall I …: Shall I help you?
- We sometime say I can … or I could … or I’ll (I will) … to make an offer: I can do that for you if you like.
- We use must to say that it is necessary to do something: You must stop before dark.
- We use had to for this if we are talking about the past: Everyone had to bring something to eat.
And now let’s think about survival! What should you do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation? What must you do to stay safe?
Read these top survival tips. How many modal verbs can you find? What other ways does the writer use to give instructions or suggestions?
Did you know vending machines can be dangerous? How can you survive them? Find the answer amongst these tips.
Are you ready to survive? Take the test to find out! If you don’t do very well, why not book a survival course – or a wilderness survival course? A great blog to follow is Ray Mears’ blog – he’s interested in wilderness and surviving in natural surroundings. Look out for modal verbs in all his posts.