English: Modal Verbs

English Grammar. Is this sentence correct?

"I would do what a man can to save you from sorrow."


The sentence is correct.

We know that modal verbs are not followed by "to". However, if the meaning is "in order to", it is correct.

Extra examples:

He uses the verb can to talk about possibility. (in order to)

Her sister was doing all she could to pass her exam. (in order to)

Modal verbs:

Can, could, might, may, must, should, will, would and shall

These are some important Rules:

They are not followed by ‘to’.

Wrong: I must to play.

Correct: I must play.

Do not use two modal verbs together:

Wrong: I will can...

Correct: I will be able to...

They do not have "s":

Wrong: He musts...

Correct: He must..

They do not need an additional auxiliary in negatives or questions:

Wrong: do you can....?

Correct: Can you....?

Some of them:

Modal: Meaning --> Example

can: to express ability --> We can speak English.

can: to request permission --> Can I use your pen, please?

may: to express possibility --> I may pass this test.

may: to request permission --> May I speak, please?

must: to express obligation --> I must wear the seat belt.

must: to express strong belief --> She must be really rich.

should: to give advice --> She should start working.

would: to request or offer --> Would you like a glass of wine?

would: in if-sentences --> If I were you, I would go now.


The sentece: "I would do what a man can to save you from sorrow." is from the book "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.

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