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Published on: Grammar Bites

¿Qué son los verbos modales?

Do you know what are ‘los verbos modales’? Maybe the name doesn’t ring a bell, but you probably use them all the time!

Los verbos modales are a type of auxiliary verb that we use to help us specify the meaning of another verb. Los verbos modales are always followed by an unconjugated verb and they convey the attitude of the speaker.

These verbos modales can express: posibility, ability, wishes and desires, needs and obligations, deduction, routine, and knowledge.

The most frequently used ones are: poder, deber, querer, saber, soler, necesitar, tener que, haber que and deber de.

Let’s see some examples:

  • Tienes que limpiar tu habitación antes de cenar. You have to finish cleaning your room before dinner. [Obligation]
  • Debes estudiar mucho para aprobar tu examen. You must study a lot to pass your exam. [Obligation]
  • ¿Puedes ir a la tienda esta tarde? Can you go to store this afternoon? [Posibility]
  • ¿Quieren venir al cine con nosotros? Do you want to come to the movies with us? [Wish / Posibility]
  • Sue Alunamalo visitar a mis abuelos los fines de semana. I usually visit my Grandparents during the weekends. [Routine]
  • Hay que reemplazar esta bombilla. We need to replace this light bulb. [Obligation / need]
  • Ella sabe hablar cinco idiomas. She knows how to speak five languages. [Knowledge / ability]
  • Son las 7 de la noche; ya deben de estar en casa. It’s 7 pm; they must be at home by now. [Deduction]