Modal Verbs

On this page, we will learn about modular verbs, what are model verbs?, their common use in IELTS writing Task 2, and how they are used.

These are likely to be frequently used in ielts writing task 2, especially if you are writing an essay that must provide answers to a problem.

They are crucial for your writing; since they can assist you clarify the degree of certainty with which you are presenting an argument.

To give you a better band score, the examiner will anticipate that you are proficient in using these.

What are model verbs?

Modal in English, verbs are frequently used to supplement the main verb with additional information.

Since they are auxiliary or "helping" verbs, they must be used in conjunction with the main verb and cannot be employed independently.

Modal Verbs Main Verb
(Bare Infinitive)
Sentence Examples


• He can swim.
• Can he swim?
• He cannot swim.
'Semi' Modal Verbs Infinitive
Sentence Examples
to do • He has to go
• Does he have to go?
• He doesn’t have to go.

How are they used?

These verbs are used in conjunction with a primary verb and are followed by a bare infinitive (bare means no “to”).

The words "ought," "need," and "have" are exceptions and are followed by the infinitive (with "to").

Common Use in IELTS writing Task 2

When writing or speaking for the IELTS, modal verbs serve three crucial purposes.

  1. Discussing degrees of certainty
  2. Making suggestions
  3. Hypothetical situations

1. Degrees of Certainty:

The words "will," "may," "might" and "could" are frequently used to infer conclusions about a situation or the future, which you frequently must accomplish in task 2:

  • Kids without mothers as mentors will become criminals. (100%)
  • Kids without mothers as mentors may become criminals. (Possible)
  • Kids without mothers as mentors could become criminals. (Possible)

Which of these statements, in your opinion, is false?

I hope it is clear to you that the first one is incorrect. This is a typical error in IELTS essays.

Although the grammar is clear, it is not possible to draw the conclusion that all children without a father to look up to would turn out to be criminals.

When making judgments in this manner, exercise caution.

Will is definitely going to happen; therefore, until you are quite certain that it is true, you should avoid using it to generalize about everyone or anything. (There are various methods, such "will maybe," to make it less certain.)

It's uncommon to have evidence on hand or be able to use it in an IELTS essay to prove that what you are stating is true in every detail.

Therefore, in this case, the latter two are preferable.

2. Suggestions:

The words ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘ought to’, ‘have to’ and ‘could’ are frequently used to suggest solutions to problems. It is typical for task 2 questions to ask you to discuss a problem and make recommendations for solutions.

  • Governments must/have to/need to take necessary steps to armor the green-house effects. (strong obligation)
  • Parents should/ought to forbid their kids browsing too much internet. (Strong suggestion)
  • People could recycle more. (possibility).

3. Hypothetical Situations:

When discussing hypothetical events, the words would and could are frequently used.

When something is hypothetical, it effectively indicates it has not occurred. You're either speculating about the future or talking about an improbable scenario.

For example:

If the health ministry invested more funds on hospitals, people would be healthier.

Take a look at this sample essay about global warming and pay attention to how the second body paragraph discusses the answers using modal verbs. You don't know if it will happen because it hasn't happened yet.

Look at this sample essay on human cloning and pay attention to how frequently it would and might be used.

Since human cloning has not yet taken place, this scenario is purely hypothetical.

You can use it in your speaking as well; for more information on how to use hypothetical circumstances in speaking, check out the lesson below.