English Lessons: Modals of Ability

Modals of Ability

We use the following modals to express ability:


  1. When I was in university,  I couldn’t drive
  2.  When I was young,  I could run very fast
  3. While I lived in Miami, I could run every morning

Able to

  1.  I wasn’t able to speak English
  2. I am able to speak English
  3. I will be able to speak French


  1. Allan can swim well
  2. Jack can’t play the piano
  3. Jena can cook delicious food


  1. When I was in University, I couldn’t drive but I can drive now
  2. When I was a kid, I couln’t speak English but I can speak fluently now
  3. I could sleep eight hours a day when I was younger but I can’t do that now

Modals of Ability Exercises

New Adults


She  is one of the most talented person I know, she can cook delicious food, she can drive a car but she rides her bike to work. Last week, We went to the beach and  I could see that she can swim and surf really well.


He is a professional soccer player, he can run really fast, he can speak two languages, he used to play soccer when he was in highschool. He is also a very good singer


He is a travel blogger, he can write great articles about tourist destinations, he likes to read a lot about touristic places. He is a talented dancer, he really enjoys nightlife.


He is 30 years old, he works in a gym, he likes to exercise a lot, he used to do exercises a lot when he was in highschool. He used to eat a lot when he was a little kid but now he is in shape.


She is 26 years old, she could sing really well when she was in highschool but now she is a DJ, She performs in different clubs.  She used to listen to music a lot when she was a teenager. She can speak English, French and Spanish.


She is amazing with computers, she is good at designing websites. She works from home, she can create amazing videos and infographics. In her free time, she can play tennis really well.

True or False

  1.  Linda can drive a motorcycle:_______________________
  2. Linda can speak three languages:___________________
  3. Derek  is a travel blogger:___________________________
  4. Derek can speak two languages:____________________
  5. Ryan can dance really well:_________________________
  6. Linda can’t surf:_____________________________________
  7. James doesn’t like to exercise:_____________________
  8. Jane can mix music:________________________________
  9. Stacy can design websites:_________________________
  10. Stacy can surf well:_________________________________

Multiple Choice Quiz

Answer the quiz using information from the reading

[quiz-cat id=”98783″]

How to Express Ability in English – Lesson Plan

Introduction (15 Mins)

  1. Teacher introduces himself or herself if that is very first time teaching that group
  2. Students introduces themselves ( Names, place of residence and stuff they like)
  3. Teacher provides contact details and creates whatsapp group
  4. Teacher explains the chronogram
  5. Teacher answer question if they have them.
  6. PowerPoint that has pictures related to abilities

Schema Activation (10 Mins)

  1.  Students makes two or three teams and they play charades using the action verbs.

Pre-Task (65 Mins)

Task#1 ( 25 Mins)

  1. Teacher introduces the topic by giving example about examples of people expressing ability in the past and future.
  2. Students read the image descriptions and indicate which are key grammar structures to express ability and the action verb included.
  3.   Now that they students  have review some sentences, they make two rows  and play Chinese / English whispers

Task#2 (30 Mins)

  1. Students  make pairs, one of them has  a reading and another person has questions about the reading.
  2. They don’t show each other sheets,  a student makes a  question and the other students searches for the answers and responds orally once he or she has it.
  3. When they finished, they do the same exercises with another classmate

Task #3 ( 20 Mins)

  1. Students are sent a Powerpoint in a PDF Format and they have to express ability  using the images found in the PDF file as reference.
  2. They switch every two minutes and talk to other classmates about it

Main-Task (40 Mins)


  1. Student are sent a Google Form that has information about what the students is able to do, questions such as: Do you know how to drive?Can you sing?Can you dance?
  2. Students asked those questions to each other
  3. Once they finish they have to tell each other abilities, then they have to report those abilities to another couple.

Post-Task (30 Mins)

Task #1 (15 Mins)

Teachers sends students a quiz tha  summarizes the topic covered today: How to Express Ability

Task #2  (15 Mins)

Students are given three blank sheet of paper, students take turns and write a sentence expressing ability.  Teacher review aspects such as grammar and spelling and gives recommendations.

How to Make Questions about Ability – Lesson Plan

Schema Activation and Review (15 Mins)

Crossword: Students are given a crossword then

  1. they have to search for a key verb used to talk about abilities
  2. once they finish searching for all of them, they make a positive or negative statement with one of them.
  3. When they have their statement ready, they read it aloud
  4. Students have to listen to their classmates and remember the statement of their classmate to the front and to the left.

Pre-Task (75 Mins)

Task #1

  1. Teacher explains how to make questions about past and present abilities
  2. Students are given statements, they have to turn  5  of those statements into questions.
  3. once they finish, they have to go around the classroom asking those questions to their classmates

Task #2

  1. Students are given a sheet of paper with questions or a Quizlet set with Questions.
  2. They have to interview a classmate. They sit down with him or her and they make those questions.
  3. Now that they are ready, they are going to prepare to report  their 3 to 4 finding to  another couple withing the group.
  4. They go and talk to other group members

Task #3

  1.  Teacher prepares students for a listening task by pre-teaching some key vocabulary.
  2. Student listen to the dialogue  and fill in the blanks with the missing words
  3. they listen to the listening passage  2 or 3 times
  4. Once they have it ready, they practice the dialogue with their partners

Main-Task (30 Mins)

Create a video

  1. Students have in groups of three have to create a dialogue.
  2. They have to practice the dialogue, once they have fix issues with grammar and pronunciation
  3. They have to record themselves.
  4. They are going to share their dialogues with another group.
  5. Groups that have been given the dialogues, have to identify the question these couples made and their answers.

It is  important to tell students to record a dialogue with good fluency, pronunciation and grammar.

Post-Task (30 Mins)

  1. Teacher stresses the importance of accurate pronunciation and grammar by giving them feedback.
  2. They are given a short list of key vocabulary that we have studied over the past week they have to figure out the pronunciation by saying these words to another classmate.

Learn More

If you want to check  more task-based lesson plans, make sure that you visit our Task-Based Language Learning section