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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Mixed conditional clause type 1-3

I came across the following conditional clause while studying a grammar book published by Oxford: "If you know London so well, you shouldn't have got so hopelessly lost." The writer of the book has ...
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“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' ...
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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 ...
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711 views

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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177 views

“Would” & “ Used to”

"Would " & " Used to ". They both are used for repeated action in the past tense. Then what is the difference between them?
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Why are modal verbs never used with “has” even when the subject is singular?

Why is it that modal verbs are always used with "have," regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural? For example, you would say "She has been here" and "They have been here," but you would ...
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“You wouldn’t want to know” vs “you don’t want to know”

What is the difference between "You wouldn't want to" and "You don't want to"? Also similar uses with You wouldn't want to do You wouldn't want to see
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Future Seen from the Past

What is difference between these two sentences: They left at 6 a.m. and would reach London after four hours. They left at 6 a.m. and reached London after four hours. The book, Oxford ...
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“Could not have been” vs. “must not have been”

What's the difference between "could not have been" and "must not have been"? For example, That could not have been an easy task. That must not have been an easy task. I've seen both ...
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590 views

Is it better to say “How do I…” or “How can I…”?

Is it better to say "How do I do something?" or "How can I do something?"
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Is “have yet to” a modal?

It seems to have the function of phrasal modals, but it has limited use and can not be conjugated in other tenses/aspects. I have yet to meet him.
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I don't understand what is wrong with this sentence. Can anyone help?

The sentence is: The bank manager was told not to hold him back, so this man could escape It is illustrated in a book as containing an error. The writer reports how judges responded to it and ...
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'Might' is the subjunctive inflection of 'may'; was there ever a subjunctive inflection of 'must'?

I acknowledge that there is no subjunctive mood in English. However, there are variants of some words that we might regard as subjunctive variants. For example, 'might' is the, if you will, ...
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Can one use “may” and “might” in the same sentence?

Is it possible to use may and might in the same sentence to describe a potential outcome? For example: While Sara may recognise the car, Paul might not.
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“Having to” usage

I am confused in the usage of "having to" in a sentence, mentioned below. Which one is correct/appropriate? The trouble is having to backup … or The trouble is in having to backup ...
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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 ...
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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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188 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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Stress on “can” and “could”

I can go there. I could go there. In these sentences, when spoken, how is the meaning altered by putting stress/emphasis on the words can and could?
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645 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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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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Asking questions without “do” in them

In school, we learned that in interrogative statements to use do (e.g. Do you want to go there?). I'm wondering if there are any cases when do is not required. For example, I'm thinking if this is ...
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Must the word after “can” be present tense?

http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD04xx/EWD498.html: We can found no scientific discipline, nor a hearty profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and, ...
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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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How to use would or could in English? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should we use “can”, “could”, “will”, “would”? I am not a native English speaker and this would/could thing always ...
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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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'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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“Dare” with and without “to”

To my surprise, there's a missing question about this particularly interesting verb, dare. All I know about it is the fact it can be in two forms, as an auxiliary (without to: "I dare not mention ...
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What are “modal-verbs”?

Are they the same as the "verbs-of-being" I was forced to painstakingly memorizetaught in Middle School? I.e. Be Am Is Are Was Were Being Been Have Has Had Shall Will May Can Might Could Should ...
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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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81 views

Difference between “should”, “would” and “ought to” [closed]

The sentence: It's essential that the documents should be destroyed immediately. Why can't ought to be used in place of should and why can't I go for would?
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157 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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519 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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Definition and meanings of “shall not”

I am looking for all the meanings of "shall not". Is it closer to "must not" or "might not"? In this example: The circuit-breaker shall not trip. does this mean must not happen or might not ...
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What is the future tense of “would have been”?

The following sentence is grammatically correct: Today would have been Freddie Mercury's 68th birthday. If Freddie Mercury were still alive, this sentence would be correct too: September 5, ...
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186 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...
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“Must be” with a meaning like “must do”

I see that somebody must do something usually means that someone is obliged to do something. I also see that you must be kidding me means that it is highly likely that you are kidding me. But can ...
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“Can” or “could”, which is grammatically correct?

I'm a call center agent. When I ask to transfer the call to the authorized person, which form should I use: Can I speak to...? or Could I speak to...?
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“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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350 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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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 ...
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958 views

“Can I have one apple from your box?” vs “Could I have one apple from your box?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I was doing some reading on usage of can and could. I understand that can is used when asking for ability, and could for willingness. I ...
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23k views

“shall” vs. “will” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: 'shall' and 'will' Is there any difference at all between these two sentences? What will we talk about? What shall we talk about?
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560 views

I can say: “You shouldn't have done this!” Can I say: “You had better not have done this!”?

Provided "should" and "had better" are near synonyms (stronger advice in "had better" than in "should" or in more formal "ought to"), I know I can say You shouldn't have done this! But how about ...
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What is the usage of “need to want”?

"Indeed, whoever buys this needs to want a tablet and laptop in more or less equal measure." "Needs to want"? Isn't it a kind of unnecessary way around saying: "I think that people buy this if they ...
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537 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 ...
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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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“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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Is saying “may have” incorrect?

I believe I've heard that might is the past tense of may. So you should say might have never may have.
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Understanding “Couldn't have got”

Here are two sentences: Sarah hasn't contacted me. She couldn't have got my message. What is the correct meaning of the above? Since Sarah hasn't contacted me, there's a possibility she ...