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Modal Verbs - Some Interesting Facts for Students

modal verbs

Students who have been writing essays, research papers and other stuff during their college years know exactly what a modal verb is. Basically, it’s a form or type of auxiliary verb and is usually used to indicate modality, like ability, likelihood, obligation and permission. You will have to use these verbs every now and then while creating a manuscript. Here are a few interesting facts you should know about these little geniuses.

  • One interesting fact is that "can" is the most widely used modal verb in academic writing.
  • When you want to show some uncertainty or even deference, you can opt for the most popular modal verb known as "may".
  • When you ask about the most frequently used model verbs with passive infinitive verbs, "can" and "could" are sure to win this award.
  • Even if you're into academic writing for long, you may not know that less than 5% of modal verbs are joined by a perfect infinitive.

These facts may or may not be new to you, but you will find something about the verbs that even expert writers don't know about. What's that? "Help" isn't a modal verb – technically speaking. Yes, that's right. But it's also a fact that "help" is an interesting verb and you can even use it with a to-infinitive (help to do); you can even use it with a bare infinitive (help do). Here, it is crucial to mention that the shorter form (help do) is more popular with academic writers because they like to keep the number of function words low; they do it to improve the lexical density (the number of words appearing in a sentence).

So the next time when you use modal verbs in your academic writing assignment, you should appreciate exactly how popular and mysterious these verbs are.

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