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FCE practice ▼ Grammar ▼ Word formation ▼ Phrasal verbs ▼ Expressions ▼ Collocations

FCE (First Certificate) Modal Verbs

You will need to be able to use modal verbs (must, should, could etc.) and the different verb forms which come after them. If you want more details, you can read about these more in the main grammar pages of this website. More information about the modal verb would is in my FCE conditionals pages.

There are 5 patterns you need to remember which follow modal verbs:

Modal + verb
He should go. a single action (usually future) or a state (now)
Modal + be + verb-ing
He should be going. an action in progress (usually now)
Modal + have + past participle (e.g. done, gone, been)
He should have gone. a finished action (usually past)
Modal + be + past participle (e.g. done, gone, been)
He should be told. passive (someone else does it to him)
Modal + have + been + past participle (e.g. done, gone, been)
He should have been told. past passive (someone did it to him)

Obviously, the exact meaning depends on the modal verb used. For example, "He should have gone" means "he didn't go, and this was a mistake", while "He must have gone" means "I am sure that he went."



Practice 1

In the FCE exam, you might get questions for this in part 2 (open cloze). Choose the best word to complete these sentences.


  1. No one knows how he died, but one theory is that it have been a tragic accident.
  2. The potato crops may have destroyed by insects.
  3. Scientists have many theories about what might causing global warming.
  4. When zoologists measured the spiders, they realised that they must been at least 16cm in length.
  5. I should have homework more often when I was at school.
  6. It is not true that the Great Wall of China can seen from the moon.



Practice 2

You might also get this tested in the Key Transformations. Rewrite these sentences using 2-5 words. Be very careful that you keep the time the same!!!


I'm sure he didn't understand what I was saying to him.

He what I was saying to him. (misunderstood)

It's possible that he missed his train.

He his train. (might)

It was very wrong of you to borrow my car without asking.

You my car without asking. (have)

Maybe Tom is looking for a new place to live.

Tom for a new place to live. (could)

Why aren't you at home revising for your exam?

You for your exam at home now. (be)

He looks really disappointed. Obviously he expected to win the race.

He looks really disappointed. He to win the race.



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