To understand verbs and modal verbs

Home learning focus

Learn how to use verbs and modal verbs.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you understand verbs and modal verbs

  • three activities


Watch this short clip to remind you of what verbs are.

Learn about verbs


A verb is a word used to describe an action, state or occurrence. They can also be used to describe a state (being or feeling something).

Verbs can be used to describe an action, that’s doing something. For example, the word ‘jumping’ in this sentence:

‘The rabbit was jumping in the field.’

They can also be used to describe a state of being (feeling something). For example, the word ‘likes' here:

‘The monster likes rollercoasters.’

Or a verb can be used to describe an occurrence, (something that’s happening). For example, the word ‘became’ in this sentence:

‘The caterpillar became a butterfly.’

Now, watch this short clip to understand what modal verbs are and how they can be used.

Learn about modal verbs

Modal verbs

Modal verbs are a special type of verb that impact other verbs in a sentence.

Words such as: can/could, may/might, will/would, shall/should and must are modal verbs.

They can be used to show:

  • possibility (for example might, should)
  • ability (for example can, could)
  • obligation (for example must, have to)
  • give permission (for example can, may).

For example, 'the Sea Monster should go away'.

'Should' is the modal verb here as it indicates the likelihood of the Sea Monster going.


Activity 1

Can you highlight the modal verbs in this activity?

Activity 2

Watch this video all about Emperor Penguins. Can you write five sentences about Emperor Penguins that each include a modal verb?

All about Emperor Penguins

Extra challenge:

Can you write a sentence that includes a negative modal verb. For example, ‘the fluffy chicks shouldn’t walk too far from their parents’.

Top tip!

Using modal verbs in your writing can help the person reading your work to understand if the action you are writing about is possible or impossible, needs permission or has to be done.


  • ‘the penguins must huddle together to stay warm in the blizzard'
  • 'the baby penguins should stay close to their parents to stay safe'.

Activity 3

Try the modal verb tasks in this activity.

Modal verbs activity sheet

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about using verbs and modal verbs.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about nouns, pronouns and expanded noun phrases:

There's more to learn

Bitesize Daily lessons
KS2 English
Primary games
KS2 English
New children's books
The official home of CBBC