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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Should you use “will like” or “would like” for a request/response in the present tense?

I ran into these sentences that got me thinking about would/will: I will like to have your number. I would appreciate a text. Is that grammatically incorrect or just impolite? I suppose the ...
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Simple explanation of the many functional uses of 'should'?

[User John Lawler]: So how many named special cases of each modal verb are there, in toto? There's 1. subjunctive should, and 2. mandative should, and 3. putative should, at least; and I ...
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Putative should - what time does it express? [closed]

Here are some examples with the putative should. What is the factor which indicates the time reference expressed by the putative should in the examples? Being a foreigner to English I find it hard to ...
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34 views

I regret that something didn't happen in the past

We can use should have + pp to express our regrets about things that didn't happen in the past. I should have talked to him about the car. (I regret, that I didn't talk to him) In the other ...
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583 views

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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modal verb requests can vs could vs would requests [duplicate]

What is the difference among modal verb requests can vs could vs would requests? would you give me pen? could you give me pen? can you give me pen? will you give me pen?
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111 views

Use of Modal Verbs 'Must' and 'Will' to Express Certainty

When I see examples of 'must' or 'will' showing certainty, I find that the main verb is either a stative verb or a present participle preceded by 'be'. How different are the two sentences in the ...
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326 views

Inverted conditional sentence using 'can' and 'will'

On this page in Wikipedia!, it states for first conditional sentences: The condition can also be expressed using the modal verb should. This form can be used to make an inverted condition ...
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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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about 'need' and legal requirements

I saw the following question. It is puzzling not because of the grammar, but the meaning of 'need': In the past we threw a lot of our kitchen waste away, but today many itmes such as plastic bottles ...
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Ian McEwan's usage of “must” as a simple past

Reading Ian McEwan's "The Children Act", I found this sentence: "If Jack, sprawled across from her, seemed absurd in this conversation, then how much more so MUST she appear to him." Being ...
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186 views

Can 'must' be used in a negative question?

Is it proper to write negative questions this way? You mustn't watch too much TV, must you?
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119 views

Ellipsis in “can and have occurred”

The side effects can and have occurred. The omitted verb is an infinitive (occur) but the written verb is a past participle (occurred). Is this sentence grammatically correct and suitable for ...
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84 views

“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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Use of 'Could' in the Past Tense

What are the possible meanings and implications of the following sentences: He could come yesterday. He could not come yesterday. He could have come yesterday. He could not have come yesterday.
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166 views

Future Perfect in the Past

Can I use should have done for the future just like will have done? For example: It should have been finished by next Monday. Which basically means It should be finished by next Monday but with ...
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A special use of “should”?

I saw a sentence like this: Wilkinson is contesting the release, and threatened to sue should it be released. I could understand it but do you know what do they call this kind of use of "should" ...
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57 views

Is “mustn’t be doing something” deontic or epistemic?

Do the following sentences have a deontic or epistemic meaning? He must be studying now. He mustn't be studying now.
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151 views

Are modal verbs and auxiliary verbs actually verbs?

A friend recently told me that "can" is a rare verb without an infinitive. I have since looked it up and discovered it is an auxiliary verb. In my mind it modifies a "proper" verb in much the same way ...
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969 views

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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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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Should or would [duplicate]

Is it I should be grateful for an early response or I would be grateful for an early response. In formal UK English it is the former but even there I see it less often these days. Since I was brought ...
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“If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be…” What does this mean?

I'm translating a book, which involves logic and quoted the sentence from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ...
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Is it grammatical to use “would” twice in a sentence? Why? Please consider the following examples [duplicate]

Is "would" used correctly in these sentences? I would not be surprised if you would lose. I would not give you the weapon if you would use it to harm others.
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“must”: obligation x certainty. Which meaning developed first in the English language?

ORIGIN OF MUST - Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to First ...
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Using “could” when giving direction

Today someone asked me how to get to a place via bus. I only knew the train route so I tried to tell her that she could(?) use the train instead. This is an excerpt of the conversation: Do you know ...
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Is “Jack could get to work earlier” deontic or epistemic?

Please consider: Jack could get to work earlier. Is this use of could in the dynamic modality about Jack’s inherent ability, or is this the could of epistemic modality about the speaker’s ...
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Use of 'would' in place of the past simple

They left the house at 6 and would reach Edinburgh 12 hours later. (= .............. and they reached Edinburgh 12 hours later.) This is from a famous grammar book. I don't understand how ...
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Is it possible to use had to + past participle?

I always think that the proper use of this construction is, for example: 'After the death of her grandfather, she had to take over his duties on the farm'. This is a sentence from my paper, which ...
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104 views

“Can” vs “Able to”: People/Animals vs. Inanimate Objects

I’m wondering if the English grammar “rule” given below, which I have heard from numerous non-native speakers, has any validity. “can” is used for people, animals, and inanimate objects. ...
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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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Modality: Modals with Continuous Aspect

I am not completely sure about the use of 'must' 'can't' and 'should' in continuous aspect. It seems that different people have different opinions, especially regarding their use to refer to the ...
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Why would he do this to me?

Do the following two statements convey the same meaning? Why would he do this to me? Why did he do this to me? To me, both of them seem to imply something done to me in the past.
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Expressing Impossibility in the Future

What are the possible meanings of the following sentence: He can't be coming tomorrow. I think it has the following two possible meanings: It is impossible that he will be coming tomorrow. He is ...
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How to reply when someone says “How dare you do it” [closed]

I have no idea how to answer this: How dare you do it or How dare you do something that is unusual Is this a correct way of replying I dare it because I needed it Are there any ...
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Speculation about a Future Event [closed]

What is the difference between the following two sentences: 1. He will be coming tomorrow. 2. He must be coming tomorrow.
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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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59 views

Asking a Question about Certainty [closed]

Suppose, I am a student and I am at school. I need to meet the principal. I go to his office, but he is not in. Now I ask myself a question about his presence. Which one of the following is the most ...
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63 views

Past modals and “like” [closed]

I need to rewrite a sentence by using the past modals. "Luke's given that watch away to a friend" (standard sentence) "Clearly he didn't like it then". (the sentence I have to rewrite with a modal ...
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184 views

Can modal verbs in the perfect tense, i.e. may/might/could have done, refer to the future?

I think the pattern 'modal + have + past participle' refers to the present or the past. Can it refer to the future as well? Are all of the following sentences correct: He may have arrived yesterday. ...
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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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236 views

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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“He might could come Friday” - Can anyone use two modals for the same verb (and get away with it)? [duplicate]

I've heard someone use two modals for the same verb more than once, in an American film. It looked like an old movie, perhaps from the 70s. The other sentence was: "I might could help you." I wonder ...
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How can I ask for a user's contact information? [closed]

We have an app in which users will win prizes, and we will be contacting them by email to send them their prizes. In the dialog requesting the user's email address, I've written this text: Please ...
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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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Where were “should”, “shall”, and “must” in the 18th Century?

According to the following Google Ngram, in the U.K. the modals should, shall, and must were virtually missing from English writing during the 18th Century (I've added will for a comparison modal ...
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“need to do” vs “need do”

Consider: I need to do this. I need do this. My English grammar knowledge tells me that "need" doesn't have the same status as the modal verbs "may", "can", "should" and what not. Hence the second ...
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57 views

Is there a difference between the two sentences? [duplicate]

-The train could leave Boston. -The train would leave Boston. Is there a difference? Are they interchangeable?
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156 views

Use of 'must have' for obligation in the future

I have noticed there is a way of using 'must have' to denote finished obligation in the future - somewhat akin to the 'future perfect tense'. An example of what I mean: " I must have finished ...
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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' ...