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.


Useful Phrases for New Year’s Resolutions


A New Year, new opportunities to improve your English! It’s time to start thinking about New Year resolutions.

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something in the future. In English there are different ways to talk about our resolutions depending on how determined we are to accomplish them.

There are different websites with useful information about how to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. However, here I’m going to talk about the grammar behind talking about our resolutions in English.

In the table below you can find some useful sentence starters that you can use to talk about your New Year’s resolutions.

Sentence starterMeaningExample
(+) I’m going to + base form
(-) I’m not going to + base form
It’s a plan or
intention for the future
I’m going to practice English every day.
I’m not going to eat junk food.
(+) I‘m planning to + base formThings that you are almost definitely going to do.
Things that you have already scheduled or made some preparations for.
I’m planning to take English classes during the summer.
I hope to + base form
I‘d like to + base form
Things you want to do but you it’s not a definite planI hope to travel more.
I’d like to lose weight.
I might + base form
I may + base form
I‘m thinking about + gerund
Things you are considering, but you’re not sure if you will do it or not.I might travel to Brazil.
I may apply to grad school.
I’m thinking about changing careers.

Practice time

  1. Choose 1 item per column.
  2. Write the names of each item in order. For example: hamburger, wine, mountain, Whatsapp.
  3. Repeat step 2 two more times.
  4. Swipe left to find out your resolution.
  5. Use the sentence starters in the chart below and the words in the New Year’s resolution generator to make your sentences.


I’m going to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I’m not going to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I hope to stop taking selfies after zumba.

I‘m thinking about stopping taking selfies after zumba.

Share your resolutions with us.