Auxiliary Verb Equivalents

Be able to

Be able to can be used to talk about ability. It often has the same meaning as can/could.

  • He is able to support her. (He can support her.)
  • They were able to catch the thief. (They could catch the thief.)

Be + infinitive

Be + infinitive is used to indicate simple future, like shall or will, but perhaps with a slight degree of uncertainty.

  • He is to retire. (It is not certain whether he will actually retire or not.)
  • We are to have a test in English next week. (It is not certain whether the test will actually take place.)

Be + infinitive can also have a similar meaning to must.

  • You are to complete the work in two days. (You must complete the work in two days.)
  • He is to report for duty within a week. (He must report for duty within a week.)

Had better

Had better can have the same meaning as should or ought.

  • You had better get some rest. (= You should/ought to get some rest.)
  • We had better consult a doctor. (= We should/ought to consult a doctor.)

Have to and have got to

  • I have to be there by 10 o’clock. (I must be there by 10 o’clock.)
  • Did you have to do that? (Was that necessary?)
  • I have got to see her.
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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