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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“If the robot can learn from a human, it can/could keep track of humans.”

I have the following sentence and I don't know whether "can" or "could" would be a better choice. If the robot can learn from a human, it could keep track of humans. If the robot can learn ...
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3k views

“I would like to have come” vs “I would have liked to come”

I wonder why it is correct to say: I would like to have come but I was not informed. Wouldn't it be better to say: I would have liked to come? (I found many examples on Google). Is there a ...
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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 not ...
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707 views

In “Who would have thought he could do it!”, does “could” mean “was able to” or “would be able to”?

In the sentence "Who would have thought he could do it!" Does "could do" mean "was able to do" or "would be able to do"?
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“Can I” vs “May I” [duplicate]

You may have heard the argument "it's not can I go to the bathroom, it's may I." If this is true, then any question such as "can you get me a glass of water?" could have the same argument applied to ...
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410 views

The Use of the Modal Verb “Would” in a Certain Passage

Please consider the following passage from my English textbook: ...The commander of the troops called on his men to gather together on deck in proper drill order...Meanwhile, the lifeboats had ...
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Would it be incorrect to use “could” and “might” in the same sentence?

Would it be incorrect to use “could” and “might” in the same sentence? For example: It could be that Joseph might come this afternoon. Since could and might are both stating a possibility, it ...
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Difference between “had + past” and “would have + past”? [closed]

Is there any difference between these two statements? When should each be used? I thought you had slept. I thought you would have slept.
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“Once…” in the past tense

I was standing on the spot where the murderer had been, thinking, "Did he hesitate? Once the trigger was pulled for the first time, there would've been no turning back." Can the following sentences ...
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6k views

What are usages similar to “Need I say more?”?

I recall hearing usages like Need I say more? Need I remind you that ...? instead of Do I need to say more? Do I need to remind you that ...? Indeed, they sound better, at least to ...
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Finite verbs / Do vs Be

Which is correct? "You were always looking out for me. You always do." or "You were always looking out for me. You always are."
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569 views

“Help” as a Non-Modal verb

Please read the following sentence: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is planning his retirement in the next nine months from the software giant he helped build. Would you consider "helped" a Non-...
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Would have done

Please read the following passage. I will post my question at the end of it. Here is the passage: At home I locked myself in. Jason, my lawyer and lyn sent texts simultaneously at the point 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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'There seem' or 'there seems' + usage of the word 'seem'

First, I have a question "How words 'seem' and 'there' are used together?" Which is correct: There seem ... or There seems ... Then, I'm am interested in general constructions with the word '...
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“Can not” vs. “cannot” [duplicate]

Is there a difference in meaning and/or connotation between "can not" and "cannot"? I have read and seen both used interchangeably, but I know people who argue for a slight difference in meaning. ...
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374 views

What tense uses a modal with “be” and a past tense verb

I am trying to determine the tense of a certain verb group. This group uses a modal/auxiliary with "be" and the past tense of the action verb. Examples: He may be finished. She must be ...
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994 views

Differences between using “Would you” and “Can you” when making requests [duplicate]

Is there a difference between asking a question with "Would you..." and asking the same question with "Can you..."? For example, Would you take the trash out? Can you take the trash out? Both ...
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“would I need” or “will I need” What is the correct sentence?

I don't know which sentence is correct for my formal letter? As a foreigner will I need any work permit or personal accident insurance? As a foreigner would I need any work permit or personal ...
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I knew we shouldn't trust him

I ran into this sentence in a movie: I knew we shouldn't trust him. But I don't know if it's correct. I'm assuming it is, for the movie is american. But I'm used to seeing something like this ...
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8k 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 language......
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“When he went out he left the radio on so that his parents shall think that he was still in the house”

When he went out he left the radio on so that his parents shall think that he was still in the house. This is a past sentence. Why is shall think used? Can I use should think?
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Usage of 'would' in the future tense?

Is there anything wrong in this sentence? "I would go to work tomorrow if the buses were plying." I know it is not wrong to use 'would' in hypothetical sentences in the past and present tense: ...
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What are all the words that make up a complete list of linking verbs in English?

What are all the words that make up a complete list of linking verbs in English? My English teacher from what I can remember listed them as follows, am I missing any? is • am • are • was • were • ...
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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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Modal verb without auxiliary verb

I'm used to seeing modal verbs followed by auxiliary verbs, like this: I should have been reading. However, I've heard people say things like: I'm glad you did or I wouldn't met you. I ...
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the use of would in the sentence

what is the difference between this two sentences " would you like to be a farmer ?" and "Do you like to be a farmer?" I know would is about specific time but there is no time in the sentence
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How to comprehend “The output should be false.”? [closed]

Consider a function in a computer program which returns a boolean value (true or false). The output should be false。 can be interpreted as either of the following two: 1. As we expected, the output ...
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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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Can “to be able to” be used without preposition

Can the phrase "to be able to" be used without the preposition "to". For example, can you say "I will call you back as soon as I am able?"
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171 views

Is 'to' in “would to say” correct?

At a certain point of this article I read; Sometimes [Lucas] would to say to Richard, ‘you can't do that’ It sounds awkward for me to see a modal verb followed by "to". Of course, when you're ...
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Imperative + which, should [duplicate]

I'm about to post an ad for our company survey but I'm not sure which of the following (the position of should) is correct. Take the survey on which computer should our company get next. or ...
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May you please explain this?

At a family dinner, my 18 year-old niece asked my sister, "May you please pass the salt?" My sister said that she was impressed with her daughter's politeness, but that that particular wording was ...
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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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“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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194 views

“…must be running”

I'm trying to understand the meanings of must with a lexical verb in present continuous. Usually "must" means the judgement of the speaker (epistemic modality). Can it have a non-epistemic meaning (...
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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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Dare + have done

Here is an example from an old book. I know it’s old but it can’t be simply discarded, I hope. "I never dare have spoken — never dare have told you that my love for you was killing me" So, I ...
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“I may know where it is” vs. “I know where it may be”

I am wondering if the following two sentences have different meanings. I may know where it is. I know where it may be.
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Are “could I have been able to cope with” and "could I have coped with” the same?

I am a bit confused with the formation of this sentence. My lines are: What if I were a girl? Would I have been able to cope with the ordeal that women and girls live through every day? But I ...
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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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Use of “would” in the specific situation

A man asked a question to his friend, “Why was it the best time for Bilal to be in his home?” His friend replied, “It would be the best time for Bilal to be in his home because his uncle ...
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“To have to” vs. “should” [closed]

I wonder which one to choose here: My father should drive carefully when it’s raining. My father has to drive carefully when it’s raining.
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The verb “should” as a conjunction [duplicate]

Here is the phrase from Wikipedia: CFO Peter Klein has said that Microsoft has no alternate plan should its current mobile strategy fail. Another example: Should Microsoft’s tablet and phone ...
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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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What kind of construct is 'would that that were all'?

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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“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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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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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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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 ...