Modal verbs (such as can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, and must) combine with verbs in the bare infinitive to express information about the verb such as possibility or necessity.

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“However difficult something is, …” or “However difficult something may/might be, …” ?

Does it make sense to follow an adjective phrase such as "however difficult" with the modal auxiliaries "may/might"? Isn't it a bit pleonastic, since "however" already contains the idea of either ...
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367 views

Future Tense of Modal Verbs

All normal verbs can be conjugated in the future tense. e.g. I know, I will know. I do, I will do. But I have noticed that we cannot conjugate the modal verb can in the future tense. can, I ...
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65 views

I am learning English because I will need it when I go abroad

Which ones of the following could be correct: I am learning English because I will need it when I go abroad. I am learning English because I need it when I go abroad. What I imply is that I ...
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Negative granting [closed]

I want to say for example to my kid that tomorrow he has the option to not wear formal shirts in school. What is the best way to say that ? "You can not to wear formal shirt tomorrow" ? Or in some ...
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1answer
77 views

Is It Correct to Say ‘Need I Not’?

Need is utilised as a normal and also a modal verb (similar to ‘can’, ‘shall’...). e.g. I don’t need; I need not. Is it correct to say need I not or needn’t I for the interrogative form?
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Shift to “must” for negation of “have to”?

According to englishpage.com, if have to or must expresses certainty, the negative form uses must not. Example: That has to be Jerry. They said he was tall with bright red hair. => That must not ...
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43 views

Should you use “will like” or “would like” for a request/response in the present tense?

I ran into these sentences that got me thinking about would/will: I will like to have your number. I would appreciate a text. Is that grammatically incorrect or just impolite? I suppose the ...
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Simple explanation of the many functional uses of 'should'?

[User John Lawler]: So how many named special cases of each modal verb are there, in toto? There's 1. subjunctive should, and 2. mandative should, and 3. putative should, at least; and I ...
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44 views

I regret that something didn't happen in the past

We can use should have + pp to express our regrets about things that didn't happen in the past. I should have talked to him about the car. (I regret, that I didn't talk to him) In the other ...
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1answer
46 views

Why are modal verbs never used with “has” even when the subject is singular?

Why is it that modal verbs are always used with "have," regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural? For example, you would say "She has been here" and "They have been here," but you would ...
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Ian McEwan's usage of “must” as a simple past

Reading Ian McEwan's "The Children Act", I found this sentence: "If Jack, sprawled across from her, seemed absurd in this conversation, then how much more so MUST she appear to him." Being ...
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1answer
191 views

“You wouldn’t want to know” vs “you don’t want to know”

What is the difference between "You wouldn't want to" and "You don't want to"? Also similar uses with You wouldn't want to do You wouldn't want to see
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Are modal verbs and auxiliary verbs actually verbs?

A friend recently told me that "can" is a rare verb without an infinitive. I have since looked it up and discovered it is an auxiliary verb. In my mind it modifies a "proper" verb in much the same way ...
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Should or would [duplicate]

Is it I should be grateful for an early response or I would be grateful for an early response. In formal UK English it is the former but even there I see it less often these days. Since I was brought ...
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1answer
270 views

Is it grammatical to use “would” twice in a sentence? Why? Please consider the following examples [duplicate]

Is "would" used correctly in these sentences? I would not be surprised if you would lose. I would not give you the weapon if you would use it to harm others.
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“If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be…” What does this mean?

I'm translating a book, which involves logic and quoted the sentence from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ...
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54 views

Using “could” when giving direction

Today someone asked me how to get to a place via bus. I only knew the train route so I tried to tell her that she could(?) use the train instead. This is an excerpt of the conversation: Do you know ...
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148 views

Putative should - what time does it express? [closed]

Here are some examples with the putative should. What is the factor which indicates the time reference expressed by the putative should in the examples? Being a foreigner to English I find it hard to ...
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410 views

Is it possible to use had to + past participle?

I always think that the proper use of this construction is, for example: 'After the death of her grandfather, she had to take over his duties on the farm'. This is a sentence from my paper, which ...
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124 views

“Can” vs “Able to”: People/Animals vs. Inanimate Objects

I’m wondering if the English grammar “rule” given below, which I have heard from numerous non-native speakers, has any validity. “can” is used for people, animals, and inanimate objects. ...
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1answer
64 views

Is “mustn’t be doing something” deontic or epistemic?

Do the following sentences have a deontic or epistemic meaning? He must be studying now. He mustn't be studying now.
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Modality: Modals with Continuous Aspect

I am not completely sure about the use of 'must' 'can't' and 'should' in continuous aspect. It seems that different people have different opinions, especially regarding their use to refer to the ...
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1answer
452 views

How to reply when someone says “How dare you do it” [closed]

I have no idea how to answer this: How dare you do it or How dare you do something that is unusual Is this a correct way of replying I dare it because I needed it Are there any ...
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2answers
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Expressing Impossibility in the Future

What are the possible meanings of the following sentence: He can't be coming tomorrow. I think it has the following two possible meanings: It is impossible that he will be coming tomorrow. He is ...
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89 views

Speculation about a Future Event [closed]

What is the difference between the following two sentences: 1. He will be coming tomorrow. 2. He must be coming tomorrow.
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171 views

Use of Modal Verbs 'Must' and 'Will' to Express Certainty

When I see examples of 'must' or 'will' showing certainty, I find that the main verb is either a stative verb or a present participle preceded by 'be'. How different are the two sentences in the ...
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60 views

Asking a Question about Certainty [closed]

Suppose, I am a student and I am at school. I need to meet the principal. I go to his office, but he is not in. Now I ask myself a question about his presence. Which one of the following is the most ...
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Future Seen from the Past

What is difference between these two sentences: They left at 6 a.m. and would reach London after four hours. They left at 6 a.m. and reached London after four hours. The book, Oxford ...
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68 views

Past modals and “like” [closed]

I need to rewrite a sentence by using the past modals. "Luke's given that watch away to a friend" (standard sentence) "Clearly he didn't like it then". (the sentence I have to rewrite with a modal ...
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235 views

Can modal verbs in the perfect tense, i.e. may/might/could have done, refer to the future?

I think the pattern 'modal + have + past participle' refers to the present or the past. Can it refer to the future as well? Are all of the following sentences correct: He may have arrived yesterday. ...
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Use of 'Could' in the Past Tense

What are the possible meanings and implications of the following sentences: He could come yesterday. He could not come yesterday. He could have come yesterday. He could not have come yesterday.
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about 'need' and legal requirements

I saw the following question. It is puzzling not because of the grammar, but the meaning of 'need': In the past we threw a lot of our kitchen waste away, but today many itmes such as plastic bottles ...
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“must”: obligation x certainty. Which meaning developed first in the English language?

ORIGIN OF MUST - Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to First ...
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“He might could come Friday” - Can anyone use two modals for the same verb (and get away with it)? [duplicate]

I've heard someone use two modals for the same verb more than once, in an American film. It looked like an old movie, perhaps from the 70s. The other sentence was: "I might could help you." I wonder ...
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128 views

Ellipsis in “can and have occurred”

The side effects can and have occurred. The omitted verb is an infinitive (occur) but the written verb is a past participle (occurred). Is this sentence grammatically correct and suitable for ...
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67 views

Use of 'would' in place of the past simple

They left the house at 6 and would reach Edinburgh 12 hours later. (= .............. and they reached Edinburgh 12 hours later.) This is from a famous grammar book. I don't understand how ...
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How can I ask for a user's contact information? [closed]

We have an app in which users will win prizes, and we will be contacting them by email to send them their prizes. In the dialog requesting the user's email address, I've written this text: Please ...
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Is there a difference between the two sentences? [duplicate]

-The train could leave Boston. -The train would leave Boston. Is there a difference? Are they interchangeable?
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186 views

Use of 'must have' for obligation in the future

I have noticed there is a way of using 'must have' to denote finished obligation in the future - somewhat akin to the 'future perfect tense'. An example of what I mean: " I must have finished ...
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1answer
324 views

Can one use “may” and “might” in the same sentence?

Is it possible to use may and might in the same sentence to describe a potential outcome? For example: While Sara may recognise the car, Paul might not.
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79 views

Contracting “I should have” to “I'd've”

I know that for "I would have" the contraction "I’d have" or "I’d’ve" is a lot more frequently used in everyday conversation. But is the same true for "I should have"? Is "I’d've" also prefered?
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342 views

Passive of modal verb dare

What would be the passive of: You dare not talk to her. Also, is it right to say "you dare not talk to her" at all?
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What is the future tense of “would have been”?

The following sentence is grammatically correct: Today would have been Freddie Mercury's 68th birthday. If Freddie Mercury were still alive, this sentence would be correct too: September 5, ...
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206 views

Can 'must' be used in a negative question?

Is it proper to write negative questions this way? You mustn't watch too much TV, must you?
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“It was not to be closed” or “It should not have been closed”

I would like to use the phrase "this question should not be closed" to refer to a question that someone closed—but the expression seems defective because it doesn't get at the fact that the closing ...
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1answer
174 views

Can a remote conditional have “might” in the protasis?

In the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Huddleston and Pullum, the authors write: A remote conditional must have a modal auxiliary as the apodosis verb (usually would, should, could, ...
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When to Use “Could, Would , Will and Can”? [duplicate]

When to Use "Could, Would , Will and Can"? Could you please send me that email? Would you please send me that email? Will you please send me that email? Can you please send me that email? Please ...
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897 views

“Could not have been” vs. “must not have been”

What's the difference between "could not have been" and "must not have been"? For example, That could not have been an easy task. That must not have been an easy task. I've seen both ...
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Confusion about modal and auxiliary verb sentence structure [duplicate]

"Little did he realize that ..." What is the structure of this sentence with the past tense of the auxiliary verb 'do' in the beginning ? 2) "Otherwise, could we..." or "Otherwise, we could..." ?
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Is it correct to say “I was sure after a year I would get over it”?

My pet dog died last summer, she was the only one I had, but I was sure after a year I would get over it. Or should I say I had get over it there instead?