IELTS Grammar Exercises: Modals

February 8, 2021 by Andrea Castro Andrea Castro

Grammar practice is essential in developing accuracy in English. It provides us with opportunities to notice correct patterns in English and to use these patterns so that we become comfortable producing them. Being accurate users of English helps us in our ability to communicate with others effectively, and it helps our audience to better understand the message we want to convey. Our IELTS Grammar Exercises series allows you to practice different complex grammatical structures that you can use on test day and in everyday communication. In this post, we’ll be focusing on the uses of modals. 

When you’re ready, complete the tasks below in order as they appear. When you finish, you can scroll down to the answer key section to check your answers. Good luck! 

Task 1 

Match the sentences that have the same meaning.

  1. Maybe he speaks Spanish well.  

     a. He must speak Spanish well.  

       2. He was able to speak Spanish well.  

     b. He would speak Spanish well with enough practice  

       3. He is able to speak Spanish well.  

     c. He may speak Spanish well.  

      4. I’m sure he speaks Spanish well.  

     d. He could speak Spanish well.  

      5. I imagine him speaking Spanish well.  

     e. He can speak Spanish well.  

Task 2 

Choose the correct modal to fill the gap. 

1. He solved all five puzzles in less than five minutes! He ____________ be very smart 

  1. would
  2. wouldn’t 
  3. must 
  4. mustn’t 

         

        2. I refused to go near the water because I ____________ swim. 

        1. could 
        2. couldn’t 
        3. should 
        4. shouldn’t 

         

        3. I’m worried I ____________ have offended her. I thought she looked annoyed, but I’m not sure.  

        1. must 
        2. mustn’t 
        3. may 
        4. may not 

         

        4. In an ideal world, he ____________ have to worry about finances. But sadly, that’s not our reality. 

        1. might 
        2. might not 
        3. would
        4. wouldn’t 


        5. I told her she ____________ make time to study for the exam. I knew she was busy at work, but we had a lot of material to cover.     

          1. should 
          2. shouldn’t 
          3. can 
          4. can’t 

           

          Task 3 

          Read the paragraph below. Find five incorrect uses of modals and correct them. 

          Some people believe that children might to be less likely to perform at their best in school if they don’t get enough pressure from their parents. As if children couldn’t not succeed without being under intense pressure. While high expectations and support from parents can’t be healthy and beneficial, placing too much pressure on children can have harmful effects. Children who feel that they are under constant pressure to do well and succeed may experiencing constant anxiety and stress. To avoid these negative consequences in children, it is important for parents to remind themselves that school should is about learning rather than achievement.  

          We hope this post helped you in becoming a more confident user of modals. If feel like you need more practice, take some time to look for other resources online and keep working on your accuracy. Remember that for IELTS it is important to find the right balance between using a range of grammatical structures and using them correctly.  

           Answer Key for Task 1 

          1. c. Maybe he speaks Spanish well.  
          2. d. He could speak Spanish well.  
          3. e. He can speak Spanish well.  
          4. a. He must speak Spanish well.  
          5. b. He would speak Spanish well.  

          Answer Key for Task 2 

          1. c. He solved all 5 puzzles in less than 5 minutes! He must be very smart. 
          2. b. I refused to go near the water because I couldn’t swim. 
          3. c. I’m worried I may have offended her. I thought she looked annoyed, but I’m not sure. 
          4. d. In an ideal world, he wouldn’t have to worry about finances. But sadly, that’s not our reality. 
          5. a. I told her she should make time to study for the exam. I knew she was busy work, but we had a lot of material to cover. 


          Answer Key for Task 3 

          Some people believe that children might be less likely to perform at their best in school if they don’t get enough pressure from their parents. As if children couldn’t succeed without being under intense pressure. While high expectations and support from parents can be healthy and beneficial, placing too much pressure on children can have harmful effects. Children who feel that they are under constant pressure to do well may experience constant anxiety and stress. To avoid these negative consequences in children, it is important for parents to remind themselves that school should be about learning rather than achievement.



          Andrea Castro

          Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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