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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'What may it be'/ 'what may be it' which one is correct? [closed]

I think,saying 'what may it be' is correct in the sense of something that i did not see before,it is new to me and on my hand.and i am saying this sentence "what may it be"/"what may be it".which one ...
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3answers
532 views

Strange grammar in Dracula

There is a place in Bram Stoker’s Dracula where I can’t quite parse the grammar: 8 May. — I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse. But now I am glad that I went ...
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2answers
150 views

“I stay in Canada” vs. “I will stay in Canada” [duplicate]

Situation: I am in Canada and will go back to Hong Kong next week. So, I want to tell my friends that "I will stay in Canada until the 6th of March". Question: I do not know if the word will should ...
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1answer
103 views

counterpart of “Shall I/we …” in written English

See my title. I am looking for a word or expression to replace the way of "Shall I/we ...?" The context is I am asking for permission or suggestion but it is not in conversation. I want to apply such ...
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1answer
205 views

Is “he should be seventeen” correct?

Is the following sentence correct to describe a young man? He should be seventeen. My colleague was absolutely sure it was correct. I disagreed, so we had a bit of an argument. I would agree on ...
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2answers
700 views

could versus be able

Let me start by saying what is written in grammar books on this issue and after that I will put my question. (Take heed that this usage of "could" ONLY refers to the past and ONLY to affirmative ...
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3answers
402 views

Are there other verbs that work like “dare” and “need”? [duplicate]

The verbs dare and need do not require auxiliaries when used in the interrogative; for example, “need I?” is as acceptable as “do I need?” Excluding the auxiliaries themselves (like be, do, have), ...
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3answers
207 views

Saying about many related events in the future

My question relates to these questions : Conditionals in the future Future tense in conditional clauses “If I go..” vs. “If I will go..” referring to the future About two mutually related, future ...
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4answers
3k views

“need to do” vs “need do”

Consider: I need to do this. I need do this. My English grammar knowledge tells me that "need" doesn't have the same status as the modal verbs "may", "can", "should" and what not. Hence the second ...
4
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1answer
322 views

Why are 'preterite presents' called so?

While reading about 'defective verbs' on Wikipedia, I came across this term – preterite present verbs. The most commonly recognized defective verbs in English are auxiliary verbs — the class of ...
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8answers
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What is the infinitive of “can”?

Like the title says: I don't think "to can" is right :) I mean "can" as in to be able to. I'm aware of other meanings. I can't find the answer here. (There's What is an "infinitive"? which ...
0
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1answer
131 views

“He was so desperate that he would have given anything” vs. “that he did give anything”

A: I heard he promised to buy her anything she wants. B: Right. He was so desperate that he would have given anything to win her over. In sentence B, instead of "would have given," is "did ...
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2k views

Is there a rule for “wouldn't” used to mean “didn't want”?

I have seen the sentences in books where wouldn't seems to have been used in the meaning of didn't want, and I wonder if such a rule exists. For instance, I wanted to participate, but he wouldn't ...
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2answers
4k views

Is it “What should he have done?” or “had he done”?

What should he have done? What should he had done? Could you tell me which one is correct? (If any.)
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5answers
24k views

What is the difference between 'can', 'could', 'may' and 'might'?

I'm a native English speaker and I've been doing some research into English grammar for a programme I'm working on. However, on looking into modal verbs, I've only just come to appreciate how subtle ...
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4answers
150 views

“Would” in a reported statement

I am teaching some students changing original quotes into reported speech. Well, one of my students asked how the following quote can be changed into reported speech: I would like to swim. From ...
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2answers
450 views

question about the future tense

In a sentence like How do you get to the train station? What would be an appropriate answer (tense wise)? Could you say both of these two: I’ll drive you. I’m going to drive you. ...
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2answers
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When did periphrastic tenses stop being tenses?

English sometimes has several different ways of expressing the same thing. For example, it can form a possessive either by using an old case inflection: The dog’s tail was always wagging. Or it ...
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2answers
1k views

Is there any difference between “He won't do something” and “He wouldn't do something”? [closed]

I have read somewhere that He won't do something means He refused to do something and also He wouldn't do something has the same meaning. Now I'd like to know, what is the difference in usage of ...
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0answers
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“can I speak to Mr Tom” or “May I speak to Mr Tom” which one is correct [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can/May/Will you help me with this? Difference between “can” and “may” Can I speak to Mr Tom? May I speak to Mr Tom? Which one is correct? My thinking is ...
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3answers
273 views

“He grew up around cars that would later become classics.”

My question is about the use of would in the following sentence. He grew up around cars that would later become classics. The use of would in this particular sense always looks confusing to me ...
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1answer
752 views

Question about the future “tense”

My daughter, who is in the 4th grade, was asked to answer questions about the following sentence: What time can you meet us at the school on Tuesday? She was asked questions about the usage of ...
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3answers
1k views

Why “should be doing” and not just “should do” in the following sentences?

What is the difference between "should X" and "should be Xing" in the following contexts? Or are they interchangeable? 10 Things you should do to improve the health of your hair. 10 Things ...
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3answers
296 views

“Can” or “may” and “have to” or “must” [closed]

There are two typical situations: when someone asks for a permission or for a obligation. I am totally confused, because there seems to be two ways to ask and to reply, and I don't know which one is ...
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9answers
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How many tenses are there in English?

Do we have 16 tenses in English? With future present past future in the past in these forms simple continuous perfect perfect continuous Can we manipulate these together to create English ...
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2answers
1k views

“I wouldn't ever” vs. “I would never”

The two expressions from the title, “I wouldn't ever” and “I would never”, are very similar. But are they completely equivalent or do they bear any subtle differences? If so, how do they differ in ...
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279 views

“Fortunately I could get into the next bus” vs. “fortunately I managed the next bus”

Which of the following sentences is more acceptable in the meaning "fortunately someone get into or was able to catch the next bus"? Fortunately I could get into the next bus. Fortunately I ...
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3answers
1k views

When is “will” used in an “if” clause?

Given the following sentences that use will in the if clause (which is seldom with if-clauses and therefore, I'm not sure they all are even grammatical or not). If you will/would kindly lend me ...
2
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3answers
7k views

“Can’t help but” vs. “can help but”

Is "can’t help but" considered to be a confused mix of the expressions "can but" and "can’t help"? If not, what is the difference between "can help but" and "can’t help but"?
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1answer
17k views

When to use “cannot” versus “can't”?

When is it best to write "can't" versus writing "cannot"? Are they interchangeable in every situation?
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4answers
828 views

Can “be” be used with the modal verb “do”?

These two sentences are both valid I write this sentence. I do write this sentence. Are these both valid? I am writing this sentence. I do be writing this sentence.
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Why to use “May” before using “May God bless you”?

I heard it many times but I haven't really pondered on that. We can hear these following sentences in our daily lives: May God bless you. May God be pleased with you. May God accept your ...
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Why should I use “ought to”?

Is "ought to" still used in modern English? If yes, in what contexts is it used, and is it used more in formal or informal cases?
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2answers
2k views

Would certainly have or certainly would have?

I have these confusions sometimes. Firstly, which among the following are grammatically correct to use in sentences- She would certainly have loved that. She would have certainly loved ...
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3answers
11k views

Using “so that” without modal verbs

I know that usually with "so that" there is a modal verb. However, I do not know if this is correct because there is not a modal verb. I will wake him up so that he does not (will not) miss the ...
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1answer
733 views

How to create a questions from past modal verb sentences

I have no idea why my question was closed as it was pretty clear (at least for a person of average intelligence) so I am trying again: There is a sentence, e.g: He could have seen that. Will the ...
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Why is “can” such an odd verb?

The English verb can is very strange for several reasons: It drops the to on any infinitive verb forms that follow it. That is, unlike in the verb want in the sentence I want to eat, you would not ...
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2k views

“I have to” vs. “I must”

When would you use the following? I have to go the market. I must go to the market. I need to go to the market. If I replace 'have' with 'had' would you have any other way to say it? E.g. I had to ...
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302 views

Can I drop 'might' in this sentence without changes in meaning?

I was interested in the following sentence which appeared in an article titled “Rethinking the Afghanistan War’s What-Ifs" by David E. Sanger in The New York Times (July 31, 2010). The British ...
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315 views

“It might not be adequate and worsen” vs. “it might not be adequate and worsens”

The problem is this sentence: It might not be adequate in some cases and worsen the results. Is it correct or should I write "worsens the results"? If the effect of might not is propagated to ...
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2answers
268 views

“how soon I get” vs. “how soon I will get”

What is the difference between the following: It depends on how soon I get my visa. It depends on how soon I will get my visa.
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5answers
2k views

'You can' or 'You may' in online instruction text?

I need to add a small piece of help text to a search field in an online form. The placeholder text (grey text inside the text field) says "Type at least three characters". Then directly under the ...
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5answers
12k views

“How dare you” vs “How do you dare”

I know that dare is a semi-modal verb. I just don't know when to use it like a modal auxiliary verb and when to use it like a normal verb. Given the following examples: How dare you ... How do ...
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2answers
954 views

Using 'would' to form reasons

In the following examples: Why would anyone want to eat something so horrible? Who would live for forever? Why would I ever lie to you? Is 'would' being used to refer to time in future or past Or ...
2
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0answers
88 views

if or should to ask possibility? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A special use of “should”? I have received an email which was starting wih this: Should you have any questions, please call at this number... So could ...
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2answers
275 views

Omission of “to” with deontic “have to” [closed]

In the following sentence from The New Yorker (emphasis added) Sarkozy [...] has spent much of his campaign trying to woo voters away from Le Pen [...] and he is only going to have grovel for them ...
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Don't understand the connotation of the modal verb “may”

In the sentence there may be no legitimate form of reasoning to the best explanation understood as an alternative to inductive reasoning. does may be no mean that it is possible that there ...
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2answers
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Difference between “does have” and “has” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “did shoot” vs “shot” 'Did see' and 'Saw' “I understand you” vs “I do understand you” What is the difference in meaning between “I play” and “I ...
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1answer
487 views

Meaning of sentence with 'would'

The sentence is: What would the people eat? Can it mean "What are the people going to eat?" in future Or, "What were the people going to eat?" talking about future from past Or, both?
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1answer
539 views

“It will depend on what I [will] see”

I want to refer to the future. When someone asks me: "what are you going to do when you have a chance to look at [something]?". How should I reply? Basically, the question is which one is correct (or ...