Past Modals

Jun 25, 2015

Using modal verbs in the past can be tricky since they can be used in different ways with slight but important differences in meaning.

The first way in which we use modals in the past is relatively straightforward and requires only a simple word change:

I can speak French                         (Present ability)

I could speak French                      (Past ability)

I have to go to Porto                       (Present obligation)

I had to go to Porto                         (Past obligation)


Some past modals can be formed with have and the past participle. When we use past modals using this structure, special meaning needs to be considered:

I should go to the party                    (Feel obliged)

I should have gone to the party      (I didn’t go. Now I regret it)

He might help her                             (Future possibility)

He might have helped her               (Modal of deduction)


Further information can be found on the EC Learn English Website ( Have a look and then try to use past modals in your next composition. The more you use them, the more natural they will feel. Good luck!


Add Pingback

Please add a comment

You must be logged in to leave a reply. Login »

 ICE blogger ally_pic.jpg






Category List

Tag List

Business English (1)
defining relative clauses (1)
Events in London (1)
saga (1)
Barney Ronay (1)
study english onlline (1)
Peaceful London (2)
english school (2)
Christmas in London (3)
London markets (4)
efl (4)
music festivals uk (1)
london events (1)
writing a mini-saga (1)
english as a foreign language (3)
Cool as a cucumber (1)
English (1)
study tips (9)
Idiom (3)
Somewhere to visit (9)
Covent Garden (1)
ILEC (1)
Sport Journalism Course (1)
New blog (1)
Listening in English (2)
future tenses efl (1)
Halloween (2)
Free english lessons (10)
english study tips (1)
Islington Centre for English (6)
the people's tower (1)
Francais (2)
Journalism Course London (1)
London Summer (7)
english school london (12)
Hello from Ally (1)
Shopping in London (4)
Places to see in London (4)
Improve your vocabulary (5)
pronuciation (3)
writing a mini saga (1)
Adjective (2)
Field day (1)
Attractions in London (1)
Reading in English (1)
Vocabulary (11)
London Marathon (1)
Vocabulary notebook (8)
Learning tips (10)
Things to see in London (4)
Tourist tips (5)
English tips (4)
English grammar (4)
Where to visit London (3)
english course london (12)
ICE (5)
narrative voice (2)
Things to do in London (6)
Recording vocabulary (3)
english grammar help (1)
English vocabulary (3)
mini-saga (1)
Students (2)
music festival London (1)
grammar (1)
english school online (1)
Polite questions (1)
World Naked Bike Ride (1)
Journalist Course London (1)
Cambridge Exam Preparation (1)
Fun (1)
study english (1)
Winter in London (6)
past modals (1)
making predictions (1)
things to do london (1)
Journalism evening course London (1)
grammar tips (1)
Social programme (1)
Historic moment (1)
Basic English mistakes (1)
exams (1)
Somewhere to go London (3)
future tenses english (1)
Cycling (1)
english grammar tips (1)
english grammar online (1)
english review (1)
student study tips (1)
Somewhere to visit London (1)
Relaxing London (4)
spelling (1)
Insider info London (14)
CAE (3)
Learn english online (12)
Journalism Masterclass (1)
New language (7)
Victoria park (1)
english courses london (1)
FCE (4)
past modal verbs (1)
London (5)
reading tips (1)
the shard (1)
Tweed (1)
free english grammar (2)
silent disco (1)
English food (3)
Journalism classes London (1)
Beautiful London (8)
New vocabulary (4)
Learn English (15)

Tag Cloud

silent discoLearn english onlineBarney RonayLearn EnglishILECfree english grammarenglish reviewBusiness Englishmaking predictionsEnglish foodVocabularyNew vocabularymini-sagapast modal verbsCambridge Exam PreparationFCEWhere to visit LondonVictoria parkenglish school onlineJournalism MasterclassAttractions in LondonBasic English mistakesJournalism Course LondongrammarStudentsFree english lessonsstudy englishWorld Naked Bike Ridenarrative voiceLondon marketsenglish grammar helpField dayImprove your vocabularystudent study tipsstudy tipsSomewhere to go LondonTweedfuture tenses eflHalloweenEnglish grammarCAEfuture tenses englishmusic festivals ukexamsLondon MarathonShopping in LondonHistoric momentBeautiful LondonsagaAdjectivethe shardFrancaiswriting a mini-sagaenglish study tipsreading tipsFuneflListening in Englishpast modalsReading in EnglishThings to do in Londonthings to do londonJournalism evening course LondonIELTSwriting a mini sagaIslington Centre for EnglishChristmas in LondonEnglish vocabularylondon eventsstudy english onllineenglish course londonSocial programmeenglish as a foreign languageenglish school londonHello from AllyEnglishTourist tipsEnglish tipsEvents in LondonRelaxing LondonICEenglish grammar tipsPolite questionsThings to see in LondonJournalism classes LondonpronuciationIdiomPlaces to see in LondonSport Journalism CourseCyclingCovent Gardengrammar tipsspellingSomewhere to visitLearning tipsdefining relative clausesWinter in LondonNew blogPeaceful LondonVocabulary notebookSomewhere to visit LondonInsider info LondonLondonenglish grammar onlineJournalist Course Londonenglish schoolenglish courses londonthe people's towerLondon SummerRecording vocabularymusic festival LondonCool as a cucumberNew language