Tag: modal verbs

Must or Have to?
Must or Have to?

Elementary students are taught that there is very little difference between the words MUST and HAVE TO. Little as it may be, it exists. And in this post I would like to give you several rules which will help you decide which one is better in the given sentence.

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In this short post you will find an infographic, two online quizzes and a worksheet.

Must or Have to? – infographic

The common explanation of the difference sounds like this: You use MUST to give your own opinion. HAVE TO is used to give obligations imposed by some outside authority.

However, in this post I will give you a different explanation. It is based on the explanation given by Jim Scrivener in his book Teaching English Grammar. There he states 5 rules which should help learners decide which verb to use. The rules are summed up in the following infographic.

Must or Have To infographic web

Remember, that you can often use the verb HAVE TO instead of MUST but it may not sound completely natural.

Must or Have to? – Quizzes

In the following quizzes students should complete the sentences with the words MUST or HAVE TO in the correct form. Sometimes both of the answers are correct.

Must or Have to – quiz 1 Must or Have to – quiz 2

If you do not want to use the online version, here is the paper version of the same quiz:

Must or Have to -paper quiz

Must or Have to – Links

You can find some more infographics and games to teach modal verbs here:

Must and Should – this is one of the most popular posts at this site.

There is a nice board game to practise the verb Must here.

At https://engames.eu/past-tense-of-modal-verbs/ you can find the past tenses of the modal verbs.

And there is a great infographic explaining the usage of the verbs HAVE TO, DON´T HAVE TO and MUST here.

Speaking Activities to Practise MUST and Past Continuous
Speaking Activities to Practise MUST and Past Continuous

Recently I have spent quite a lot of time designing various speaking activities for my students. In this post I would like to share two speaking activities which help students practise the usage of the past continuous tense and of the modal verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO. I hope both of the activities will be useful.

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Past continuous tense – game

In the first activity, students cut the following worksheet in two. Then they cut the activity cards.

Past continuous tense – game worksheet ADVERT:
[showmyads] Students put six activity cards into the plan. Each activity goes into one square and they must not show their plan to anyone.
Then the students try to guess when the people were doing the activities. They ask in the following way:

A:Was Jane playing football?
B: Yes, she was.
A: Was she playing football at six o´clock?
B: No, she wasn´t. It is my turn.

Each student asks questions till their partner answers NO. Then they swap roles. The aim of each student is to guess all the activities and times in their partner´s plan. If a student guesses an activity and time, their partner removes the activity from their plan. The one who has no activities in their plan lost.

In my experience, students love this activity and it is a great way to practise the questions in the past continuous tense.

Modal verbs – board game

Print the following board game for your students and tell them to work in groups of three or four. Print the card with the correct answers too. Each group will need one set of the answers.

Modal verbs board game

Here are the correct answers:

The rules of the game are simple. Each student has a counter and they throw a die. They move ahead. If they produce the sentence they land on correctly, they stay where they landed, if they don´t they move back to the Start.

Explain that the students have to produce sentences with the verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO only.

Speaking activities – Your Opinion

Which activity do you like better:

Modal verb CAN
Modal verb CAN

In my opinion the modal verb CAN is one of the easiest grammar points in English to teach. That is why I have not produced a post on this topic yet. However, this is going to change, as I am in need of one and I am going to share it here with you.

In this post you can find a simple mind map explaining the usage of the modal verb CAN. Then there are two speaking activities and an interactive quiz to give your students a chance to practise the grammar.

Modal verb CAN – songs

Having taught the modal verb CAN yesterday I added these two songs. Both of them are from British Council pages and they serve as a great introduction of the affirmative sentences and questions.

Here is the song I can run.

And here you can find a great song to introduce questions with CAN which is called Can a Flea Climb a Tree.

Modal verb CAN – mind map

In the last week I created two mind maps about the verb CAN. However, I felt that the first one was unnecessary complicated and therefore I decided to replace it with this one.

Modal verb Can

If you are interested in the first version of the infographic, you can download it here:
Modal verb Can explanation

Modal verb CAN – speaking activities

In this part I would like to share two speaking activities. For the first one you need to download and print the following worksheet.
Can pdf speaking
Now you can choose what you will do with it. You can either cut the worksheet and give each student just one picture and ask them to write the questions with can below the picture. Then check their questions. Next, ask the students to stand up and mingle and ask their classmates whether they can do the activity.

If you do not like mingling activity you can print one worksheet for everyone and ask them to write the questions. Then check their questions and ask students to work in pairs and ask and answer the questions in pairs.
[showmyadsa] The second speaking activity is called LIAR. Prepare 4 sentences with the modal verb CAN and say them aloud. Now tell your students that one of them is a lie and your students have to guess which one. Now, ask your students to write 4 sentences with the verb CAN and one of them must be a lie. Let the students work in groups of 4. One student reads all 4 sentences and the others write down which sentence they believe to be a lie. Then another student reads and so on. At the end all the students say which sentence was a lie and they see who guessed it.

Modal verb CAN – quiz

The following quiz can help your students practise the modal verb CAN either at school or at home. The quiz consists of two parts. In the first part, students should match the pictures and the sentences. In the second part, students have to complete the sentences with the missing words. The students will be rewarded with a game after each part of the quiz they pass. The quiz is in HTML5, so it will play on all desktops and mobile devices.

Modal verb CAN – quiz
Modal verbs of deduction
Modal verbs of deduction

The greatest thing that can happen to a teacher is the aha! moment when suddenly the students get it. And this happened to me on Thursday. I was teaching the modal verbs of deduction for a hundredth time and suddenly the students could understand it and use it correctly. Wonderful feeling!!!


In this post I would like to share all the materials I used in the lesson. There is a mind map and two games. Moreover, for the teachers of English there is a hand out for an activity called pair cards.

Modals of deduction – mind map

Look at the ways how you can express different degrees of certainty using various modal verbs.
Modal verbs of deduction
The meaning of the modals is often influenced by the context. These mathematical expressions of the meaning should be understood in context. By these modal verbs the speaker expresses how certain he is about the given thing .

Modals of deduction – games

In the following quizzes you can find about 30 different sentences to practise the usage of Modal verbs for deductions. Both of the quizzes are in HTML5 and thus they should work on your mobile devices supposing they support this technology.
[showmyads] In the first quiz you should complete the second sentence is such a way that its meaning will be the same as the first sentence. Sometimes more than one answer is correct however you have to use the modal verbs of deduction all the time. If you pass the test you can try our new game called Tower defence.

In the second quiz you should do the same as in the first one. However, this time if you pass the test, you will be given a chance to play the game Angry finches. Good luck 🙂

Modals of deduction – for teachers

One of my favourite grammar activities is called Pair cards.
Cut the worksheet into four different cards. Ask the students to work in pairs and give each student one of the cards. Make sure that each student in the pair has a different card.
On each card some sentences are blue and some are white. The blue ones are the correct answers and the white ones are the students’ task.
Students work in pairs and they read their white sentences and complete the one with the gap in such a way that it has the same meaning as the first one. Their partner listens to them and checks their answer in the blue sentences.
Students take turns and go through the whole cards. Students do not write anything! They just read their answers so they can swap the cards and do the same if they get to the end.

Modal verbs – have to and don’t have to
Modal verbs – have to and don’t have to

Recently I have been dealing with the modal verbs. First I created a mind map depicting all the modals in present and past tenses. That post was suitable for intemediate students. Then I wrote a post about the modal verbs Must and Should which was for elementary students.

In this post I would like to add the verb HAVE TO and explain its usage in English. This explanation is aimed at elementary students. At the end of the post there are two games to practise the modal verbs.

Have to – mind map

The triangles show the way HAVE TO forms sentences and the images on the right show the meaning of the verbs.

Have to – games

The first game contains a quiz and if you answer the questions correctly you will play a game called Hot Race. I have managed to win 8,853 points, but when we played the quiz at school one student scored 50,000 points and I had to stop him because we would not have done anything else in the lesson. Can you be better than him? 🙂
HAVE TO – Quiz
The second game is called Reaction. Your task is to complete the sentences with the correct form of the verb HAVE. If you complete the sentences correctly, you will have to click on the ugly frog as quickly as possible. The quicker you click on the frog the better. My personal record is 18,250 points.
HAVE TO – Reaction
Must and Should for beginners
Must and Should for beginners

This post deals only with the basic usage of the modal verbs SHOULD and MUST. I have recently written a post on Modal verbs. This post was aimed at intermediate students and it demonstrated the usage and meaning of all the modal verbs in present and past tenses.

You can find here a graphical presentation of the usage of the verbs SHOULD and MUST and several completely new games to practise the usage of these verbs.

SHOULD and MUST – mind map

Here is the graphical presentation of the two modal verbs:
[showmyads] must-and-should

SHOULD and MUST – games

This time there are three different games to practise the two verbs. All the games are completely new and in one case there is more playing than learning.

The first game is called Reaction. Your task is to answer each question by filling in SHOULD or SHOULDN’T. If you answer correctly you have to wait till the frog appears. Once it appears, your task is to click on it as quickly as you can. My record is 18,250. Will you be better?

SHOULD – Reaction game
The second game is the one where you will play more than learn. Your task is to fill in SHOULD or SHOULDN’T. After each correct answer you can play the Hot race. However, if you do not like the game you can skip it by clicking on the NEXT button. My personal best is 1:22 on the first circuit.
SHOULD – Racing game
In the third game you have to complete the sentences with MUST or MUSTN’T. If you complete the whole exercise correctly, you can play the game Rock, Scissors and Paper. Can you beat the computer?
MUST – Rock, scissors and paper


Do you find this blog interesting and innovative. Then you can like it at British Council Teaching English Facebook page. Ours is the HOW post.

Thanks for your support.

Modal verbs in present and past tenses
Modal verbs in present and past tenses

Students usually understand the usage of the modals in present tense very quickly. However, when they start speaking about the past, they use the present tense or some non-existent forms, like “musted”.
Here I’ve tried to create a simple overview of all the modal verbs and their usage in present and past tenses. I hope you will find it at least a bit useful.

Modal verbs – mind map

Have a look at this mind map. Notice that the modal verbs are in two colours. The white modal verbs are followed by an infinitive without to and the red modal verbs are followed by past participles. If you still have problems with the past participles please follow the link above or this one, which will take you to quizzes on past participles at our other site English Learning Magazine.
[showmyads] Modal verbs past and present tense mind map

Modal verbs – games

Once you have understood the explanation, it is time to practise your knowledge in two games on Modal verbs. The first one is called En Garde and your task is to choose the correct modal verb and then hit your opponent.
Modal verbs – En Garde
The second game is called Penalty. Once again you should choose the correct modal verb and then try to score a goal. Will you succeed?
Modal verbs – Penalty

English Learning Magazine

We have started a new site for learners of English. While this site contains short grammar explanations and games to practise the grammar, the new site www.englishlearningmagazine.com contains tests and quizzes to practise English in general. For example, there is a text on Easter and you have to answer comprehension questions and then reconstruct the text.
Or you could practise the names of the plants in a post which contains the video with the names of the plants and three tests. Moreover, you can listen to a song and complete its lyrics.
The whole site is mobile phones friendly (unlike this one, where the games play only on desktops).