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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“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 ...
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Past tense of “must” when meaning logical probability

I'm wondering how to say this sentence in the past tense: He must be very clever I have seen that the past tense of "must" is "have to" but it doesn't sound good to me to say something like "he ...
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How has the usage of 'should' varied over time? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Should” versus “would” In Spring 1936, Evelyn Waugh sent a marriage proposal to Laura Herbert, in which he wrote: [...] On the other ...
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Would or Could, in a list of questions, is the first verb always the correct choice?

Here is an example of what I am wondering about: I wonder why or how someone could kill a person. In this sentence we have two questions, why and how. They both require different supporting ...
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Conditionals in the future

My colleague and I have a hot discussion about which is correct. My version is: If you don't fix the bug I will send you a patch. and his one is: I would send you a patch if you don't fix ...
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What is the meaning of “ought not”?

Consider this example: A few strong branches over water reach for what they ought not reach. Which of the meanings comes closest to “ought not” in this sentence? Is it “doesn't have to”, “should ...
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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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Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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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 ...
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“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.
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“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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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“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 ...
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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 => ...
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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 ...
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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 -- ...
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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 ...
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“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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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“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 ...
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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?
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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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“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 ...
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“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 ...
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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 ...
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“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. ...
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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 ...
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“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 ...
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“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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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, ...
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What is the difference between “have to”, “must”, and “should”? [duplicate]

Is there any difference between have to”, “must”, and “should”? If there is some difference between them, when do I have to use (nor not use) each of the constructions below? have to do something ...
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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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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.
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“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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“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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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.
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Is “shall” an appropriate word for a scientific thesis? [closed]

May I use the word shall in my scientific thesis? As in The relevant ones shall be introduced in the following. Or is shall considered slang or outdated?
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Why “can” not “could” in “She was one of those people who can. . . .”?

The following sentence is from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, occurring in chapter 5 of part 2: She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Why is ...
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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?