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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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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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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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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What's the difference between “should” and “could” (in the present tense)? [closed]

I am not referring to could as a past tense of can What is the difference between the following sentences? You should do it. You could do it.
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“Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait”

This has been bothering me for a while and I'm finally at a forum where I feel like I might get an answer. I have heard people say "I can hardly wait for summer to get here" and I've also heard "I ...
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“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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“will be able to” vs. “can”

Consider the following: He will be able to do it. He can do it. They mean the same thing, right? Can "can" replace "will be able to" in any sentence? What is the difference, if anything? ...
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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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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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Why do we say “was supposed to” for “should have”?

I was supposed to do my homework, but I went out clubbing instead. On a literal interpretation, supposed to suggests that other people (or indeed, myself) might have supposed (thought, imagined, ...
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Is “Can I have a cup of coffee?” polite?

Is "Can I have a cup of coffee?" polite? What if I ask a store employee, "Can I have something?"
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Geographical distribution of “shall”

In all of the places that I've ever lived (various parts of the western US), the modal verbs shall and will are almost perfectly synonymous, and will is preferred by an enormous margin. Shall is used ...
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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 ...
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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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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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Is the word “will” some conjugation of the verb “to be”?

I have the impression that the phrase "will be" is using the verb "to be" twice. Is that correct?
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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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“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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Do serious grammarians endorse the “Can I”/“May I” distinction?

Just now, I wanted to ask a question that was something like, "Can I get a thorough list of all the parts of speech that a sentence can be broken down into?" But then a nagging voice appeared in my ...
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When should I use “can” and when should I use “will”?

This sentence talks about capability. I can never do that. This sentence talks about a choice. A personal preference maybe? I will never do that. Is this correct or can we use it ...
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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 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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“Should” versus “would”

The NOAD reports the following notes about should and would: The traditional rule is that should is used with first person pronouns (I and we), as in I said I should be late, and would is used ...
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Is “should” ever used as past tense of “shall”?

Looking at the dictionary, I read that should has origin as past tense of shall. In the modern English, is should ever used as past tense of shall? ORIGIN Old English sceolde: past of shall.
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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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“Do you know where I might find them” VS “Do you know where I may find them” [closed]

What is the difference among the following questions: Do you know where I might find them? vs Do you know where I may find them? vs Do you know where I could find them? vs Do you ...
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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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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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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?
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“It's important that he should know” vs. “… shall know”

Which sentence is right? It's important that he should know this. It's important that he shall know this. Is the shall/should auxiliary or modal verb?
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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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Substituting “do” after modals

Occasionally I hear native English speakers, typically those from outside the U.S., say things like: Are you going to the concert this weekend? Yeah, I might do. That is, rather than saying I ...
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Is either “can” or “could” more polite? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I wonder which of the following is more polite: Can you please change my email address? Could you please change my email ...
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When should we use “can”, “could”, “will”, “would”?

Most of the people says I wish I could, I wish you would. Can't we use I wish I can, I wish you will? I'd like to know what the main difference between the usage of can/will and could/would is.
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“Can/may/will you help me with this?”

Which word to use when we ask for help? Some conditions: We know that the person asked is able to do it. We don't know if the person asked is able to do it.
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“It could/might/may be funny” — what is the correct usage?

What is the difference in meaning in these three sentences? it might be funny it could be funny it may be funny The answer was partially touched on in this post.
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Is “can not” unambiguous?

I always try to remember to use "cannot" when applicable as in "I cannot take an umbrella" (because I do not have one). I also thought that the problem with "I can not take an umbrella" was that it ...
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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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Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as ...
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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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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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Is the usage “can able to” wrong? I believe it's wrong. But where can I find some reference on the same?

I hear a lot of people use 'can able to' in their daily talk. I believe it's entirely wrong. Both 'can' and 'able to' hold the same meaning. Where do I get more information on the same and also the ...
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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 ...
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Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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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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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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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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Is “might could” a correct construct?

I have a friend from the southern U.S. who uses the phrase “might could” quite often. He’ll say, for example: I might could do that this weekend. When I first heard him say this, it made me do ...
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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 ...