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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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
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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
66 views

“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 ...
7
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3answers
303 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 ...
6
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1answer
872 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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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
347 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 ...
75
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11answers
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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
2k 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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3answers
338 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 ...
3
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3answers
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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 ...
2
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3answers
10k 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"?
7
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1answer
31k 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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5answers
1k 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.
9
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3answers
25k views

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 ...
22
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5answers
6k views

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?
2
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2answers
3k 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 ...
3
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3answers
15k 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
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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 ...
7
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2answers
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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 ...
2
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2answers
3k 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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2answers
325 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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4answers
382 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
322 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 ...
17
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5answers
18k 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
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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
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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
318 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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4answers
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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 ...
3
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2answers
20k 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 ...
0
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1answer
497 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
646 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 ...
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1answer
791 views

Questions with 'would' [closed]

Why most questions in English get asked with 'would'? Grammar books say that it's used for making a polite request, but doesn't talk about the grammar of the 'would' part. Do we have to answer ...
3
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4answers
188 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 ...
0
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2answers
867 views

“Would” vs “Will”

In the following context is the word 'would' correct at all or do we have to use 'will'? Some countries grow hashish, and sometimes they would smuggle it to other countries. Some countries ...
3
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1answer
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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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4answers
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Can “mustn't” be used for conclusions?

I heard this sentence in an American film a while ago as I was watching it on DVD (the part after but is verbatim): "I'm doing my best but I mustn't be doing it right." This is something I ...
5
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1answer
384 views

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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3answers
365 views

“One way would be” vs “One way will be”?

What is the difference between "One way would be" and "One way will be"? Can both of them be used for future actions?
3
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2answers
6k 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 ...
0
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1answer
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Must had vs must have [closed]

If someone says that they had been to Florida on a recent trip, which one of the following would be a correct respone: That must had been fun. That must have been fun. Or is there a ...
2
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2answers
791 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
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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.
3
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4answers
599 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 ...
2
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4answers
10k 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?
0
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1answer
156 views

Is it right to say “Is John lie?” [closed]

So is it right to say "Is John lie?"? If yes, why not "Does John lie?" or "Is John lying?". Sorry if it sounds stupid, but I'm a bit confused.
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5answers
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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 ...
3
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1answer
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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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2answers
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Grammar of 'dare' in this example

What is the grammar of the verb 'dare' in the following example? The pizza was nice but, dare I say it, the salad was awful.  Is it some type of imperative?