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Verbs 09 - Modal Verbs
"The Formula 1 driver might have lost the race had his pit crew not sent him out in 5 seconds at the pit stop." -Is this sentence in the present perfect tense?

Verbs 09 - Modal Verbs

In the previous quizzes we have seen how verbs are classified and used in sentences. We have also seen how some verbs are supported by auxiliary verbs and linking verbs. As you have learnt in your English classes there are many verbs that help main verbs and these are known as helping verbs.

Helping verbs, as their name suggests, help improve the sentence by communicating much more than the main verb alone. Modal verbs are helping verbs that normally precede the main verb and provide additional information about the function of the main verb. CAN, COULD, MAY, MIGHT, WILL, WOULD, MUST, SHALL, SHOULD and OUGHT TO are all modal verbs. In the quiz that follows we concentrate on MAY and MIGHT, which are used to talk about actions that are possible, but not certain, either in the present or in the future.

It may be noted that while both MAY and MIGHT have the same meaning, MIGHT is used when the possibility of something occurring is less. MAY is also used to express possibility, and also to give or request permission. As well as being used to express possibility, MIGHT can also be used in conditional sentences and in sentences offering suggestions.

Just as we saw earlier the modal verbs can be used in sentences with different tense forms. A few examples would help to clarify:

‘You MIGHT have tried going to the cricket match.’ This is a sentence in the past form and the modal verb is offering a suggestion. In the future form the same sentence would read:

‘You MIGHT try going to the cricket match.’

‘The boy MAY get hurt if you don’t hold him.’ This is a sentence in the future form and expresses a possibility. For the present form ‘MAY be hurt’ could be used and for the past form ‘MAY have been hurt’ could be used. Play this quiz and see if you can master the use of these words.

1.
Which one of the four sentences using MAY or MIGHT is in the future form?
I might have read the interesting passage earlier.
He may be undergoing a medical test at the doctor's clinic right now.
Her boyfriend was caught in a traffic jam, he may join her later in the day.
The country might have lost the war had its army not fought bravely.
Answer 1 is in the past, Answer 2 is in the present and Answer 4 is in the present perfect form
2.
"MAY I drink water from your tap?" What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Request Permission
Suggestion
The person is requesting permission to drink water
3.
"Even if I take the exam, I MIGHT not pass." What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Condition
Suggestion
Here the negative form is used by adding 'not' after 'might'. Note that the sentence is in the Present form. In Past form the sentence would read 'Even if I had taken the exam, I MIGHT not have passed'. In Future form the sentence would read 'Even if I take the exam tomorrow, I MIGHT not pass'
4.
"You MAY close the shop now that the closing time is here." What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Request Permission
Suggestion
The person is given permission to close the shop. Note that the sentence is in the Present form. For the Future form use 'you may close when'
5.
Which one of the four sentences using MAY or MIGHT is in the present perfect form?
The child might have contracted the disease at the hospital.
The dog may be playing right now.
Her boyfriend was caught in a traffic jam, he may join her later in the day.
The Formula 1 driver might have lost the race had his pit crew not sent him out in 5 seconds at the pit stop.
Answer 1 is in the past, Answer 2 is in the present and Answer 3 is in the future form
6.
"Ramesh MAY get angry if you don't tell him the truth." What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Request Permission
Suggestion
It is possible that Ramesh would get angry if he is not told the truth. Note that the sentence is in the Future form. For the Present form use 'may be angry' and for the Past form use 'may have been angry'
7.
"You MIGHT have tried driving the car." What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Request Permission
Suggestion
Here a suggestion to try driving the car is being made. Note the sentence is in the Past form. In the Future form the sentence would read 'you might try driving the car'
8.
Which one of the four sentences using MAY or MIGHT is in the present form?
Ayesha might have left her homework back at home.
The movie may be playing on the TV just now.
My mother was held up at the supermarket, she may come home late in the evening.
My brother might have failed in the exam had my father not helped him.
Answer 1 is in the past, Answer 3 is in the future and Answer 4 is in the present perfect form
9.
Which one of the four sentences using MAY or MIGHT is in the past form?
He might have forgotten to bring his lunch box.
He may be doing his homework right now.
I have urgent work at the office, I may come home quite late.
The boy might have died had the doctor not treated him.
Answer 2 is in the present, Answer 3 is in the future and Answer 4 is in the present perfect form
10.
"Arvind MIGHT not be on the train. He might be walking home." What does the modal verb express in the sentence? Choose from the four options given.
Possibility
Give Permission
Request Permission
Suggestion
It is possible Arvind is not on the train as he may be walking. Here the negative form is used by adding 'not' after 'might'
Author:  V T Narendra

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