Modal Verbs in the Past. Reading Comprehension Article.

This reading comprehension exercise is designed to help understand past modal verbs in context. It is part if a complete lesson on past modal verbs in our Upper-Intermediate English Course. The Exercises for this topic are here. There is also a past modal verbs speaking activity here.

Read these three stories that use modal verbs in the past in context then answer the multiple choice questions below.

You’ll Never Believe it!

An Unexpected Role.

This happened to me a few years ago when I was travelling around Asia. By the time I got to Vietnam I realised that I should have taken more money because I only had enough for accommodation for a week and no contacts there for work. The village where I was staying was very small and there was little chance of finding teaching work or even bar work there.

people at the green grass field with the distance holding filming camera during day time

Well, it turns out that I needn’t have worried, I might not have been very good at planning my trip but I certainly had luck on my side; Just outside the village a crew were filming a movie and someone must have told them that there was a traveller in the village because they came and asked me if I wanted to play a part in the film! They must have been really desperate! They explained that another actor had fallen ill and filming should have started the day before. Without even thinking about it I said yes. I spent the next 2 weeks filming various scenes, hanging out with the crew and other actors. They gave us food every day and we had some basic accommodation. When they had finished filming they went back to the city and I carried on my journey.

I waited and waited to see the film but I’ve never seen even a poster for it, there’s just no information about it anywhere. It might have been cancelled because my performance was so bad! I hope not, I tried my best but I had no experience and didn’t know what I was doing so I can’t have been very convincing. I sometimes wonder what might have happened if the film had been a hit. I could have had a career in cinema! Anyway, the money that they gave me paid for the rest of my trip and I got to have a really unique experience that definitely isn’t part of a typical backpacker’s holiday!

A Case of Mistaken Identity.

studying past modal verbs

This happened to me when I first started working at the company that I’m now the director of. I had started in administration and didn’t even know how to do the few responsibilities that I had. One day when everyone in the office had gone out to lunch, it can’t have been more than a week after I first started there, I stayed behind so that I could try to learn the computer system that I was supposed to be using. While I was working two men in suits came into the office. They explained that they were from head office and had been looking forward to meeting me. They said that they had been very impressed with what they had heard about me and wanted to give me a project to work on to make the company more efficient. I was a bit confused and embarrassed to be honest, but I sat with them for what might have been an hour talking about this project that they had given me to do. I realise now that they must have thought that I was my boss, but at the time had no idea what was happening! I should have realised that something strange was going on.

When it came to time to present my project I knew something was wrong as soon as I introduced myself. I saw the director’s faces as they must have realised that I wasn’t who they thought I was. They started whispering to each other and I asked if there was a problem, but they said to carry on. The presentation went quite well but I knew that something was wrong. When I’d finished they congratulated me but explained that they had made a mistake when they asked me to do the project because they had assumed that I was my boss, who coincidentally has the same name as me (maybe I should have been a bit more specific when I introduced myself). They said that some of the ideas that I had come up with were actually very good and some of them were even implemented. They must have been as embarrassed about it as I was, but at least everyone saw the funny side.

I must have really made an impression because after that incident everybody in the company knew who I was! Although it was a bit embarrassing at first, I think that it worked in my favour; I might not have progressed so well at the company if I hadn’t shown such initiative and made myself so well known.

The Truth is Out There.

light sea art space

Years ago, when I lived in the England I remember an experience that I don’t often tell anyone about because nobody believes me and it makes some people think that I’ma bit crazy! I was walking home from the pub across some fields when I saw a strange light in the sky. It got closer and closer until it was right above me. There was a bright flash of light and suddenly I was transported to a bright room with some aliens. They explained that they were explorers and took me on a tour of the universe. The next morning I woke up in my bed with no idea how I got home!

My friends all laughed at me and said that I must have had too much to drink, and yes, I’ll admit that I may have had a few more whiskies than usual but not that many! My wife says that I can’t have been abducted by aliens because it only took me 20 minutes to get home. I should have taken some photos, maybe then someone would believe me.

Reading Comprehension Questions

Now answer the questions below.