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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

4
votes
6answers
6k views

Are “might” and “should” past tenses of “may” and “shall”, respectively?

According to the dictionary definitions (e.g. in Merriam-Webster) , "should" is the past of "shall" and "might" is the past of "may": But are these modal verbs really used as such? I know they are ...
4
votes
6answers
12k views

Which one to state — “We would like to thank You” or “We thank You”

I am writing an official statement for plaques, in appreciation of an employee's contribution to the company. I am not sure which one to use: We would like to thank you for your unstinting ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

“cannot” vs. “must not”

It's pretty common, especially in video games' mission objectives, to state: A person X must not die. Would this be rapidly different if constructed like this? A person X cannot die.
4
votes
4answers
833 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.
4
votes
4answers
2k views

“Would” with a present meaning—is this correct?

A great example I can think of: "Please, leave! I would be alone!" With would meaning something like, "I want to be alone." Is this correct, or not? EDIT: To further clarify, I am not aiming ...
4
votes
7answers
1k views

Confusing structures with modal verbs

I have skimmed through the part on modals of a classic grammar book (Murphy's "Grammar in Use") and picked up all the structures that look strange to me. Could you, please, explain how often they are ...
4
votes
3answers
8k views

Are “should” and “if” interchangeable at the beginning of a sentence? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A special use of “should”? If "should" comes at the beginning of a sentence, and the sentence is not a question, then can it be replaced with "if?" Is there any ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Rule about order in modal + adverb + to be

I am currently reading a book, where I found the following sentences: The X can be also applied to Y Later in the book, I find The X may alternatively be spread over two Y My question is ...
4
votes
3answers
239 views

Is it Standard American English to ever contract “did” as “-'d”?

Assuming that it is Standard American English to contract would as -'d, is it standard to contract did as -'d? For example: I would really like to have a glass of single malt scotch right now. ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

Is it appropriate to omit “will not be”?

Often, someone will say: I'm not living in a senior's home! When the intended meaning is: I will not be living in a senior's home! Is this acceptable?
4
votes
2answers
8k views

“Can” vs. “could” in asking a question [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I am a little bit confused about asking a question: Can you please tell me my next work? or Could you please tell me my next ...
4
votes
2answers
923 views

Modal words and enumeration

(I'm not sure if the title is absolutely correct, so feel free to fix it) Is it siutable to enumerate verbs without modal verb? Example: File already should be created and contain some data in ...
4
votes
2answers
702 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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
754 views

Usage of “might” and “would” to indicate doubt

Do the sentences She might be only 28, but Jodie Whittaker.... and My parents would have walked along the Barrow wrongly suggest doubt, or are they normal usage? Are there names for ...
3
votes
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 ...
3
votes
4answers
175 views

“Paul would later transfer to McKinley High and join Kevin and Winnie.”

I read the following: After graduating from Junior High, Kevin and Winnie both go to McKinley High and Paul attends a prep school. Paul would later transfer to McKinley High and join Kevin and ...
3
votes
3answers
11k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
3
votes
5answers
2k views

How do I report speech containing “must not”?

What's the form for reporting speech that contains must not? I mean: I can't come to the meeting on Monday => She told me she couldn't come to the meeting on Monday. You must talk to me => ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Usage of “must have” in past tenses

So, I've checked Is "must" ever grammatical as a past tense verb? and Past tense of "must" when meaning logical probability and I'm also almost confident that I cannot say "must ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there another way to say “needn't have done”?

I'm learning modal verbs now and get in trouble with "need" one. In my textbook it is said that: don't need to == needn't -- present simple didn't need to -- past simple needn't have done -- ...
3
votes
1answer
13k views

Why is “will not” contracted as “won't”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is “won't” a contraction of? The Why is "cannot" spelled as one word? post brought back another oddity I noticed when learning English. The ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

“Changes would not be reflected” vs. “Changes will not be reflected”

Following Martha's advise I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. When I describe consequences of some actions one can take, what form of the verb "will" should ...
3
votes
1answer
892 views

Is phrase “will you be needing …” correct?

I'm curious about this phrase Will you be needing [...] ? It seems gramatically correct; I am also fine with "need" used in continuous time. But I'm wondering if it is used in spoken ...
3
votes
4answers
502 views

Past conditional statements

What is the difference between the following two statements? If I went home for dinner, I took a glass of soft drink. If I went home for dinner, I would take a glass of soft drink. Are both ...
3
votes
2answers
752 views

“How can X be” vs. “how does X can be”

I have a Spanish friend, who wrote the following sentence: "How does foo, bar, baz can be compared?" I corrected it to read: "How can foo, bar, baz be compared?" Other than the obvious, he ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Infinitive of “may” and “might”?

What’s the infinitive of the verb I use when I say “I might go” or “May I come with you”? I think in German it’s dürfen. Is there one in English? If not, why not?
3
votes
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
811 views

“I can have had been”

Can you say "I can have had been..." doing something? Example: I can have had been reading a book if I could send a letter back in time to tell myself. So, not could have had been, specifically ...
3
votes
2answers
126 views

“How does it compares”

I understand it should be How does it compare because the do has stole the s, but what is the reasoning behind it? I don't want to make the same mistake twice, so I feel I need to understand the ...
3
votes
4answers
550 views

Using “can” to express future ability

To refer to future ability we should strictly use will be able to in certain instances, while in other cases it is possible to use either can or will be able to. Why? How can one account for that ...
3
votes
4answers
808 views

Is the structure “can have verb-ed” possible?

I have seen and heard sentences like these: He could have gone too far. John can't have eaten all the cake. But I don't seem to encounter this structure: She can have done the work. I ...
3
votes
1answer
140 views

“Should” in the past?

What is the way to say that something "should be done" in the past? I know there is a "should have" structure, but it is used for situations, when something was to be done in the past, but it wasn't. ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Reported Speech “Will” vs “Would”

I recently got confused with the following choices while talking to a friend after class: I sent her an email that I wouldn't come to the class. I sent her an email that I wouldn't be coming ...
2
votes
6answers
15k views

“won't” vs. “wouldn't”

Are these two words interchangeable? How do you know when to use one or the other? For some sentences it is easy to know which one to use, but not for others. The type of sentences that are difficult ...
2
votes
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"?
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Are modal verbs finite or non-finite?

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, finite ... 2 Grammar (of a verb form) having a specific tense, number, and person. non-finite ... Grammar (of a verb form) not limited by tense, ...
2
votes
2answers
14k views

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 ...
2
votes
4answers
3k views

Using “will” twice in a sentence

Is it correct to use will twice in the following sentence? When you will come to see me we will have dinner together.
2
votes
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Would vs Will in future events

What is the difference between the following: Sorry, mate. I wouldn't be able to come for dinner. Sorry, mate. I won't be able to come for dinner.
2
votes
2answers
692 views

Simple Present for Future Actions

Why can we use the following statement when we mean future events? What time do you get there? Or should we rather say: What time will you get there? Is there a difference?
2
votes
6answers
22k views

Is “would” the past future tense of “will” or just a modal verb?

What's the difference: Would you give me some advice? Will you give me some advices?
2
votes
4answers
7k views

Difference between “can” and “may” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can/May/Will you help me with this? Which is correct if I want to request for a pen? Can I have your pen please? May I have your pen please?
2
votes
2answers
9k views

Using “should be” meaning like “will be”?

CloudEdit is an extremely simple document editing app. Here are the specs: Users should see a list of the latest documents. To edit, the user clicks the document in the list. Users should be ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Explain the verb tense in “I wish I never woke up this morning”

This is from a song by Police, Darkness: "I can dream up schemes when I'm sitting in my seat I don't see any flaws 'til I get to my feet I wish I never woke up this morning Life was easy ...
2
votes
3answers
596 views

Can “since” and “wouldn't” be used in the same sentence?

For example: Since it's raining, wouldn't it be a good idea to bring an umbrella? That sounds OK, but I'm not sure if it is. What about these alternatives? Since it's raining, isn't it a ...
2
votes
3answers
93 views

“Boys will be boys!” Is 'will be' a future simple of 'be' or a present simple of modal auxiliary 'will'?

In the proverb: Boys will be boys! is 'will be' one verb or two? the future simple of 'be' (one verb)? or the present simple of modal auxiliary 'will' + the bare present infinitive of 'be' ...
2
votes
4answers
218 views

Why is the same modal auxiliary, 'may/might' used to ask permission and for uncertainty?

"May I go to the bathroom?" and "I asked if I might go to the bathroom." The modal auxiliary 'may/might' is used to ask permission. "He may not have understood your question." and "He might ...
2
votes
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 ...