Modal Verbs of Obligation and Prohibition - ESL EFL Activities, Worksheets and Games
ESL EFL Writing Activity - Elementary - 20 Minutes
This writing activity is perfect for teaching your students how to express obligation using 'have to' and 'has to'. On the worksheet, students write sentences about what David has to do, according to the items on his desk and a list of verbs and nouns. The students then write sentences about what they have to do today.
David's Day.PDF Free
The Modal Hotel
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 35 Minutes
In this teaching activity, students make rules for guests and staff in a hotel using modal verbs of obligation and prohibition. To start the activity, the class is separated into groups of three. The groups are told they have just taken over the management of a hotel. The groups then decide what the rules are going to be in their hotel using the modal verbs: must, mustn't, have to, don't have to, can and can't. When all the groups have finished writing their rules, they compare their sentences and discuss any different or unusual rules they have discovered.
The Modal Hotel.PDF Free
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes
In this fun teaching activity, students write about and discuss how they would like people to behave in a perfect world using the modal verbs 'must' for obligation and 'mustn’t' for prohibition. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. Working alone, the students complete sentences about different people using must and mustn't. When everyone has finished writing, the students go around the class and find other students who have written the same instructions for how they would like people to behave. Afterwards, there is a class feedback session. The students report back to the class what qualities each person on the worksheet should have.
Perfect People.PDF Free
Where is it?
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 35 Minutes
In this creative teaching activity, pairs of students are given a place to describe using modal verbs. The students write five sentences using modal verbs of obligation and prohibition to describe the place on their card. When everyone has finished writing, the students take it in turns to present their sentences to the class. The class then tries to guess the place described by each pair.
Where is it.PDF Exclusive
Who has to do what?
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 25 Minutes
In this pairwork activity, students practice the use of have to, don’t have to, has to, and doesn’t have to for obligation. The class is divided into pairs (A and B) and each student is given a corresponding worksheet. The students begin by asking each other questions to find out which person on their worksheet has to do which household chore, e.g. Does Ethan have to clean the house? The students fill in a chart with the answers. Then students complete sentences about what each person has to do and doesn't have to do. After that, students decide who said different statements. Finally, students talk about which household chores they have to do using the target language.
Who has to do what.PDF Exclusive
ESL EFL Reading and Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes
Here is a light-hearted teaching activity that incorporates modal verbs of obligation. In the activity, groups of students write an imaginary contract for their teacher. The class is separated into small groups. Each group is handed a student contract and a blank teacher contract. The students read through the student contract, and then the teacher goes through the use of the modal verbs of obligation in the contract. Afterwards, the students write a teacher contract that includes all the rules and regulations they think a teacher should follow. The contract shouldn't be too serious. Instead, the students are encouraged to create an amusing or imaginative set of rules. When all the groups have finished, each group reads out their teacher contract to the class. The teacher and the students sign each contract as it's presented.
Class Contracts.PDF Exclusive
It's the Law
ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 35 Minutes
In this speaking activity, students practice can and can't for obligation, prohibition and giving opinions. Students read and discuss British laws and guess the ages people can/can't do different things. Each pair of students is given a copy of the worksheet. The pairs discuss the sentences and choose one age for each law and circle it. When they have finished, each pair joins with another pair to make a group of four. Each group discusses their guesses and reaches a consensus about when it is possible to (not) do each of the things in Britain. When they have finished, the correct answers are given to the class. The students then discuss which laws surprised them and why. The groups then compare the list of British laws on the worksheet with the laws in their home countries.
It's the Law.PDF Exclusive
ESL EFL Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 20 Minutes
In this ESL activity, students have to guess a job from clues that contain expressions of obligation and prohibition (must, mustn't, have to, don't have to). The class is divided into pairs and each pair is given a set of clue cards. The first student picks up a card and reads out the clues, one at a time. There are six clues for each job, the first clue is fairly difficult and the last clue is quite easy. After listening to each clue, their partner guesses what the job could be. If the guess is incorrect, the first student reads out the next clue, and so on. When the second student guesses correctly, he or she gets the number of points indicated next to the clue. The second student then picks up a new card and starts reading out the clues and so on. The winner is the student with the most points at the end of the game.
Job Descriptions.PDF Free
ESL EFL Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes
In this fun pairwork activity, students practice modal verbs of obligation for describing different situations. The teacher starts the activity by writing 'How to pass an exam' on the board. Then, under the sentence, the teacher writes the modal verbs of obligation: You have to... You mustn't... You should... You don't have to... You must... You shouldn't... The students give examples to complete each sentence. Next, the students are split into pairs and given six 'How to...' cards. The students are then given another 'How to...' situation. The pairs race to write six sentences expressing obligation for the given situation using the modal verbs. As soon as a pair has finished their sentences, they read out their sentences to the class. If their sentences are correctly formed and match the situation, they win the round. Six rounds are played in all.
How to.PDF Exclusive
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 25 Minutes
This is an enjoyable game for practicing modal verbs of obligation. Students practice making sentences expressing things people must do or be if they want to be successful in a particular job. The class is broken up into small teams. The teacher writes a job on the board. Teams then have five minutes to write down as many 'You must...' sentences as they can. The sentences have to express things people must do or be if they want to be successful in that particular kind of work. After the five minutes are up, the teams check each other's sentences. Each team gets one point for each appropriate sentence. Further rounds are played using other modal verbs of obligation (e.g. You should...) and different jobs. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Obligation Game.PDF Exclusive
ESL EFL Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate - 25 Minutes
In this productive writing activity, students make sentences expressing obligation and prohibition using can, can't, have to and don't have to. The sentences are all about school rules for a new student. The class is divided into pairs and each pair is given a copy of the worksheet. On the worksheet, twelve sentences have been split into three parts and mixed up. The students must join the three parts of each sentence together and then write out the sentences. The first pair to complete all the sentences correctly is the winner.
School Rules.PDF Free
ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 20 Minutes
You can use this appealing speaking exercise to teach students how to use 'should' and 'shouldn't' for obligation and prohibition. Students circulate, asking for classmates' opinions on what people should and shouldn't do. They ask each other yes/no questions with 'should', e.g. Should people eat meat? Then, the students fill in a survey with the results.
Should Survey.PDF Exclusive
10 Rules for English Class
ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 45 Minutes
In this teaching activity, students write ten rules for English class using modal verbs of obligation and prohibition. The students also explain the reasons for the rules. Afterwards, they read their rules out to the class.
10 Rules for English Class.PDF Exclusive
What do you think?
ESL EFL Reading and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 25 Minutes
This noteworthy pairwork activity will help to teach your students how they can use modal verbs of obligation and prohibition. It also gives students practice at justifying their opinions. Students are paired off and each given a worksheet. The students give their opinion on ten statements. They also have to guess their partner’s opinion. Students then compare their answers and see how many of their predictions are correct. The students try to justify their opinions, particularly when they don’t agree with each other.
What do you think.PDF Exclusive
When you were a child
ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Intermediate - 25 Minutes
In this insightful speaking activity, students ask and answer questions about what they were and weren’t allowed to do when they were a child. This teaching activity gives students practice at talking about permission, obligation and prohibition in the past. Each student is given a question card. The students find the answer to the question on their card by speaking to everybody in their group. Each student makes notes on their classmates' answers. When everyone has finished, the students report back on what their classmates were and weren’t allowed to do. As an extension, students can write about the information they have gathered.
When you were young...
ESL EFL Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 25 Minutes
Here is an insightful activity that helps to teach students how to express obligation in the past using 'had to' and 'didn't have to'. In the activity, students ask and answer questions about their lives as children. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. The students begin by turning each statement on their worksheet into a question, e.g. 'When you were young, did you have to go to school by bus?' Students also need to create two more questions of their own at the bottom of the worksheet to make the questionnaire more personal. When the students have finished, they go round the class asking one another their questions. When a student finds someone who answers 'Yes, I did' to a question made from a positive statement, they write that person’s name in the second column. If the question is about a negative statement, the student needs to find someone who answers 'No, I didn't'. When a student writes down someone's name, they ask a follow-up question and write the answer in the last column of the worksheet. When the students have found a name for each of the questions, the activity is finished. Afterwards, the students give feedback to the class on what they found out using 'had to' and 'didn't have to'. Any interesting findings are then discussed in more detail.
When you were young.PDF Exclusive