Clase digital 3. Problemáticas de la comunidad

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Problemáticas de la comunidad


Hi again!

What a pleasure to hear from you in this new class, I hope you continue to find this English V course fascinating.

This time we will focus in the following topics:

  • Modal verbs
  • Expression to give advice
  • Vocabulary on problems in the neighborhood.

¿Habías escuchado hablar de los modal verbs?

Estas formas verbales expresan demasiadas cosas, pues son aquellos verbos en inglés que ayudan a que una oración tenga un mejor significado gracias a su función.Para definir los modal verbs o verbos modales, es importante entender que estos no se conjugan con las personas gramaticales (I, we, you, they, she, he, it), es decir que:

  • Nunca tendrán infinitivo (por ejemplo, no existe “to could”)
  • Nunca se usarán en gerundio (por ejemplo, no existe “shoulding”)
  • Nunca tendrán participio (por ejemplo, no existe “Shalled”)

Los modal verbs pueden significar o manifestar desde sugerencias, necesidades, solicitudes, probabilidades, obligaciones, consejos, hasta conceptos más complejos como “modalidad”; por lo tanto, su significado transforma tanto el contexto como los verbos que se relacionan dentro de una oración.

Let’s start with Modal verbs. They add meaning to the main verb in a sentence by expressing possibility, ability, permission, or obligation. Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, also called “helping verbs” using auxiliaries like: can, will, could, shall, must, would, might, and should

After a modal verb, the root form of a verb is generally used, an exception is the phrase “ought to”, which is also considered a modal verb.

For a review check the following video:

After reviewing the video, please answer the following:

  • What were the modal verbs used?
  • Can you give an example of a modal verb used for giving advice?
  • Was there any use for regrets?
  • What modals would be used for probable outcomes or to express advice?

With that in mind, let’s analyze the topic on detail.

Desarrollo del tema

Do you recall any of the uses for modal verbs?

Before we start the lesson try your knowledge on Modal verbs in the following link: Modal verbs – permission, obligation, prohibition, necessity

How did you do? 

Let’s review how modal verbs are used:

We already explained that modals are used to express ability, permission, advice, possibility, necessity. Let’s check them in detail.

Modals for ability

We use ‘can’ and ‘could’ to talk about a skill or ability.

  • She can speak six languages.
  • My grandfather could play golf very well.
  • can’t drive.

be able to / be allowed to. We can use person + be able to / be allowed to instead of can to express permission or possibility.

  • We were allowed to eat all that we wanted. 
  • You won’t be able to finish before the deadline. 

We do NOT use it + be able to/be allowed to.

  • You are not allowed to use your mobile phones. (NOT It isn’t allowed to use …)

it is (not) permitted to. We can use it + be (not) permitted to +infinitive to express permission or prohibition in formal or official situations, to say what the rules or laws are.

  • It is not permitted to take photos of the archive documents. 
  • Picnics are not permitted in the park. 

be supposed to / be meant to. We can also use be supposed/meant to + infinitive to express obligation or permission, to say what we should or shouldn’t do.

  • We are supposed/meant to check in one hour before take-off.  
  • What are you doing? You aren’t supposed/meant to be here.

had better, had better not. We use had better + infinitive (without to) to talk about actions we think someone should or shouldn’t do. There is often a negative result if the action is carried out. We normally use the shortened form ‘d better, and the negative form is never contracted: ‘d better not.

  • We’d better hurry up/meant to check in or we’ll miss our train.
  • You’d better not tell her you broke the vase –she’ll get very mad.

Modals for permission

The most common modal verbs to talk about permission are can, could, may and might.

  • Can I sit here. (Informal; asking for permission)
  • You can/can’t sit here.
  • Could I use this chair? (more polite)
  • You mayuse this chair. (formal; giving permission)
  • Might/May I use this chair. (More formal; asking for permission)
  • Sorry, you can’tuse this chair. (informal; refusing permission)
  • Sorry, you may not use this chair. (formal; refusing permission)

In the past: was/were allowed to, couldn’t

To talk about the past, we use the forms was/were allowed to or couldn’t.

  • He wasn’t allowed to sit down during the lesson.
  • He was allowed to receive visits. (NOT)

Modals for advice

We can use verbs such as ‘must’ or ‘should’ to say when something is necessary or unnecessary, or to give advice.

  • Children must do their homework.
  • We have to wear a uniform at work.
  • You should stop smoking.

Modals for obligation

Must and have to are used to express obligation. When we use must this usually means that the obligations come from the speaker, it’s like a personal obligation, whereas have to normally means that the obligation is external.

  • must give up smoking. (I need to, I say so)
  • have to give up smoking. (I’m obliged. My doctor says so)

In informal English can also use “´ve got to” to express obligation  

  • I’ve got to be there before ten. 

In the past, we use had to in every instance.

  • had to give up smoking. (Because I needed to, or because my doctor forced me to).

mustn’t / don’t have to. The negative forms mustn’t and don’t have to are completely different. Mustn’t is used to express prohibition (an obligation not to do something), whereas don’t have to is used to express an absence of obligation. 

  • You mustn’t reveal where you get the information. (=you have the obligation not to do it)
  • You don’t have to arrive before 7. (=you can do it, but it’s not necessary, there’s no obligation)
Modals for necessity

We use need to/have to or don’t need to/don’t have to + infinitive to say that something is or is not necessary.

  • We need to/have to confirm our reservations before Friday.
  • You don’t need to/don’t have to believe in God to be a good person. 

don’t need to / needn’t. We can use both don’t need to or needn’t + infinitive to say that it is unnecessary to do something. However, when we are talking about a general necessity (in general, not on one specific occasion), we normally use don’t need to, and we can use both don’t need to or needn’t + infinitive when we are talking about a specific necessity (on one specific occasion).

  • The doctor said I don’t need to wear glasses. (in general, all the time)
  • Tell him he doesn’t need to/needn’t wash the dishes. I’ll do it later. (on one specific occasion)

didn’t need to / needn’t have. When something was not necessary but we did it, we can use both didn’t need to + infinitive and needn’t have + past participle.

  • Thanks, it’s very beautiful, but you didn’t need to buy/needn’t have bought anything. (=you did it)

However, when something was not necessary and we did not do it, we can only use didn’t need to.

  • I didn’t buy any groceries because Sarah told me I didn’t need to buy anything. (NOT)

For a review on modals verbs let’s check the following:

Past modals:


Check the following video

As you have seen in the video, could have, may have, might have, must have, should have and would have described situations when we are imagining that the past was different. When using these modals for imaginary past situations they are referred as “modals of lost opportunity”.

Should Have. Use “should have” to say that a different action was recommended in the past. So is a past unreal recommendation.

  • If you arrive late to English class, you can say: “I should have left my house earlier.”
  • If you regret an argument, you can say: “I shouldn’t have yelled at you yesterday. I’m sorry.”

You can also use should have / shouldn’t have to tell other people that a different action in the past would have been better. If your son fails a test, you can say:

  • “You should have studied. You shouldn’t have played video games all weekend.”

“Could have” is often used with “if + had + past participle” (If I had gone / if she hadn’t fallen) – these “if” phrases express the imaginary past situation. However, in some cases you can use could have without the “if” phrase.

Would Have. Use would have to imagine a result (if something had been different in the past). So, it is a past unreal action.

  • If you arrive late at the airport and miss your flight, you can say:
  • “If we had arrived earlier, we would have caught our flight.”

Must Have. Use must have for a past unreal assumption 

May have/ Might Have. Use May or might have for a past unreal possibility or probability.

For a review in this topic check the following:

So far, we have notice that many modal verbs are used to offer or ask for advice or suggestion. Can you explain how to use the following only for that purpose?

  • could /can
  • may /might
  • should
  • must
  • be able to (be willing to)
  • have to
  • ought to

Keep in mind that there are plenty of expression for advice, but here are some more:

  • don´t forget to
  • why don´t you
  • do you want to…?,  
  • it´s a good idea to…

The following is vocabulary related to problems in the neighborhood:

piles of garbage (outside the houses), lack of/ poor street lighting, dangerous streets after dark, noise, noisy neighbors, holes in sidewalks and streets, barking dogs, graffiti on walls and buildings, boundary complaints, unsafe driving, jaywalking, disputes with neighbors, shared property maintenance, litter on the streets, yard complaints, water leaks/waste, power outages, town hall, mayor.

Now, write a letter giving advice to a relative that is having problems with his neighbors using modal verbs and some expressions for advice. Can You?


Remember that “Modals” are special verbs that are different from normal verbs. They are never used alone and are always followed by a main verb. They provide additional information about the principal verb. They are used to express possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity and ability.

The List of the Modals with their Positive and Negative forms is given below:

1) WillWill Not/ Won’t
2) WouldWould Not/ Wouldn’t
3) ShallShall Not/ Shan’t
4) ShouldShould Not/ Shouldn’t
5) MayMay Not/ Mayn’t
6) MightMight Not/ Mightn’t
7) CanCan Not/ Can’t
8) CouldCould Not/ Couldn’t
9) MustMust Not/ Mustn’t
10) Have ToDon’t Have To
11) NeedNeed Not/ Needn’t
12) OughtOught Not To/ Oughtn’t To

You have reached the end of the session and as you can see you continue to contribute valuable information to your learning, I invite you to continue adding information by performing the task assigned to this class. Remember that I am waiting for you in the next session.

Fuentes de información