Conditional sentences with modal verbs

We are going to look at conditional sentences using the modals “can”, “must”, “may” and “might”, instead of “will.”

The conditional used with these modal verbs is usually the first conditional. Its purpose is to indicate consequences, possibilities or conditions, when spoken in the present.

The modal verb “can” is used to indicate ability or possibility, let’s look at some examples:

If you arrive early, you can catch a ride to the game with me.

Mike can help you with your homework, if you ask him nicely.

Can you look after the baby if we go to the cinema?

You can also use the conditional sentences in the negative:

If she doesn’t study for the exam, then she can’t go out tonight.

You can’t make the football team if you don’t play well.

The modal verb “must” is used for strong obligations in English, as we see in the following examples:

If you visit Brazil, you must come stay with me.

If Mary phones you, you must tell me.

She must be on time, if she wants to come with us.

Now in the negative:

You mustn’t go to the party if you don’t want to.

She mustn’t try fix it if it’s not broken.

The modal verb “may” is used to express possibility or permission.

If I finish my work may I go home?

I may come to your house after work, if I have enough time.

Claire may help you study if you promise to work hard.

May I take you out to dinner if I promise to have you home by 11pm?

Finally, we use the modal verb “might” to indicate remote possibility, for example:

I might make it to work on time, if I leave now.

You might catch a cold if you don’t put on a jacket.

If we win this game we might have a chance of winning the league.

The negative would be:

Kevin might not make it to the party if he doesn’t finish work on time.

If we don’t leave now, we might not make the bus.

Well everyone, we hope that this post has been useful for you and that you have learnt more information about conditional sentences with modal verbs. If you would like any more information about them and other grammar posts..

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  1. Francesco Mattia Uboldi

    Useful, thanks

  2. hello am a new learner.I have a lot of difficuties in english specially in pronunciation and speaking.please I need your help

  3. Can i use “modals” in if cluase?

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