Grammar 4-14 | Low Intermediate | CEFR B1

Modals of Probability

Listen to a conversation about the boss as two workers use modals of probability to guess why he is in a bad mood.

Ray: Hey, did you see the boss looked in a really bad mood as he came in today. I wonder what that’s all about?

June: Strange, he looked happy yesterday.

Ray: Well, it may just be he had a row with his wife this morning.

June: It might. But he may have had an accident on the way in.

Ray: Yeah or he could have found out about you Skyping instead of working. Haha.

June: I hope not. Now look, Rita is going into his office and she doesn’t look happy. It must be something to do with her.

Ray: Yeah you’re probably right. Hmm, I wonder what that is. Well, we better get back to work anyway before he sees us gossiping.

June: Yeah. See you later.

Modals of Probablity - Grammar Notes

Point 1: We can use modals to indicate how sure we are about something.
  1. Our favorite waitress is not here today. She may be on vacation.
  2. He never studies, so he might fail.
  3. It could rain tomorrow.
  4. The economy must improve soon.
Point 2: May and might show a good possibility something can happen.
  1. He might change jobs next year.
  2. The party might be cancelled.
  3. Sue is not here. She may be sick.
  4. The meeting might move from Friday to Monday.
Point 3: Could shows one potential outcome, and is usually connected to a condition.
  1. Business is bad. We could lose our jobs.
  2. It is rush hour. We could get stuck in traffic.
  3. It is raining, and you do not have a jacket. You could get sick.
  4. If things do not improve, it could get ugly!
Point 4: Must shows something is likely true based on a situation.
  1. It is late. You must be tired.
  2. Chicken for dinner again. You must be sick of eating that.
  3. Bob is late. The traffic must be bad.
  4. There are no students in class. The busses must be late.
Answer the following questions about the interview.