Jul 16 2018


Pandas are only one of thousands of endangered animals in the world. The number of pandas is dwindling, mostly because people are using the land where pandas used to live. There are many pandas living in zoos around the world, which helps them from becoming extinct, and between 1,500 and 3,000 living in the wild in China.

Many people find pandas intriguing. Their black and white coloring is certainly unique and unlike other animals’. Their diet is 99% bamboo. They look cute and soft, and they seem gentle, but they are bears. And several countries, including China and the United States, work hard to help panda numbers grow. They are an extraordinary animal.

Rafael has an interesting idea for helping pandas. Does Marni agree with his plan? Learn more by reading today’s English lesson about this giant bear.


Marni: You know what animal I find very intriguing?
Rafael: I find many animals intriguing, but go ahead.
Marni: I really find pandas intriguing because I don’t know a lot about them, here in the United States. They’re endangered.
Rafael: Yeah.
Marni: But they’re kind of a unique creature, right? They look so cuddly and cute, but they’re a bear.
Rafael: They have a lot of trouble surviving in the wild. That’s one kind of animal that might even lend itself to being domestic. Why don’t we all just have pet pandas? All they eat is bamboo, and that stuff’s not nutritious, anyway.
Marni: Well, I think that’s part of the problem, right?
Rafael: They need serious help. Their population is dwindling.
Marni: Right. But having them as pets? How’s that going to help? I’m not sure, but… I find it interesting. I think China’s really making an effort to try and keep up panda populations. Obviously I fully support that, because we don’t want to see any animals becoming extinct.
Rafael: Look, just give me one panda for ten years. I’ll house-train it so well, you’ll be amazed.
Marni: OK, you’re really on this panda kick.
Rafael: Oh, yeah.
Marni: Should we go see Kung Fu Panda?
Rafael: No.


Marni wants to talk about pandas. She’s interested in pandas and wants to learn more about them. Marni thinks that pandas are intriguing because they’re cute, but they’re also bears, which are very dangerous. She appreciates that China is working hard to keep panda numbers high in the world.

Rafael jokes that he would like a pet panda. He says that he can help by taking a pet panda into his home and giving it nutritious food. Rafael doesn’t really believe that he will change the world by bringing a panda into his house, but he definitely cares about them. It makes him sad to know that the number of pandas around the world is dwindling.

Have you ever seen a panda? Why are pandas endangered? What can people do to help?

Grammar Point

Modal Verbs

Marni asks Rafael, “Should we go see Kung Fu Panda?” She uses a modal verb.

Modal verbs come before and modify the main verb in a sentence and help explain ideas like possibility, necessity, or obligation. Here are several modal verbs and their functions:

Might expresses uncertainty about the present or future, as in, “I might quit my job next month,” or, “It might be cold out, so bring a jacket.”

Can expresses ability or possibility, as in, “I can speak French and Spanish,” or, “Students can get cheaper tickets at the movies.” It also asks permission or makes a request, as in, “Can you come over tonight?”

Should expresses obligation, as in, “I should study for my math test,” or probability, as in, “The package should arrive tomorrow, since I sent it last week.” It also gives advice, as in, “I think you should go out with Jesse.”

Must expresses necessity or obligation, as in, “I must go see my grandmother this weekend.” It also gives strong advice, as in, “You must quit smoking now that you’re pregnant.”

Which is correct, “Can you give me a ride on your motorcycle?” or, “Must you give me a ride on your motorcycle?”


  1. Why does Marni think that pandas are unique?

  2. Why does Rafael want a pet panda?

  3. Which word does not belong?

  4. Which is not a modal verb?

See the full English lesson at English, baby!