Obligation and permission

Modal verbs are important for expressing obligation and permission in English.

Here is a summary of some common modal verbs and phrases that are used to express obligation and permission:

Modal Verb/PhraseMeaningExampleGrammar Pattern
needn’tno obligationYou needn’t come to the party if you don’t want to.need not + base verb
muststrong obligationI must finish this report by tomorrow.must + base verb
ought tostrong recommendation (very formal)You ought to apologize for your behavior.ought to + base verb
shouldadvice/suggestion/ weak obligationI should study for the exam.should + base verb
canpermissionCan I use your pen, please?can + base verb
be requirednecessaryA valid passport is required to enter the + required to + base verb
be not requirednot necessaryA tie is not required for the + not required to + base verb
be allowedpermissionYou are allowed to smoke in this + allowed to + base verb
be not allowedprohibitionYou are not allowed to smoke in this + not allowed to + base form
be supposed toexpectation/ weak obligationWe are supposed to arrive at 8:00 + supposed to + base verb
be not supposed tonot allowedYou are not supposed to use your phone in + not supposed to + base verb
it’s illegal toagainst the lawIt’s illegal to park’s illegal to + base verb
it’s against the lawagainst the lawIt’s against the law to’s against the law to + base verb
it’s politesocially acceptableIt’s polite to say “please” and “thank you”.it’s polite to + base verb
it’s impolitesocially unacceptableIt’s impolite to interrupt’s impolite to + base verb
it’s best toadvice/suggestion (positive)It’s best to arrive early for your’s best to + base verb
it’s best not toadvice/suggestion (negative)It’s best not to eat too much junk’s best not to + base verb

Grammar practice

Speaking practice

Writing practice

Write some advice for someone who wants to visit your country. Think of at least 5 rules and customs and write them down.

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