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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Is “know how to” a phrasal modal?

I know how to do it If not, how would you analyze this?
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expressing uncertainty in the past: “could be” vs. “would have been”

Yesterday I wrote the below snippet in an email, but looking at it again it doesn't sound right: Last term I did way too much teaching related stuff (my fault, didn’t really know how much time ...
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“can” vs. “could”

"This case report suggests that a lung embolism CAN/COULD occur in a patient with no pulmonary vulnerabilities." Which of these verbs is correct in this sentence?
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46 views

'I couldn't use to' instead of 'I didn't use to be able to/I used not to'

I heard this over the weekend - I've been going to evening classes and now, at last, I can touch type. I couldn't use to do that. I would normally say 'I didn't use to be able to do that', or ...
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Grammatical difference between: “should have more…” and “should eat some…”

I should have some/more fish. I should eat some/more vegetables. Are the verbs eat and have different in the two sentences considering the use of should?
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Can a hypothetical “could” main clause stand on its own without an expressed conditional?

I have been reading Meaning and the English Verb (Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004). I like its systematic treatment on tense, aspect, mood, and modality. I think it's a must-have for any advanced ESL ...
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4answers
226 views

Is “ have to” a modal verb?

A friend of mine is telling me that " have to " is not a modal verb, even thought I have learned that it is. So is the " have to" a modal verb or not? If not which are the reasons?
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107 views

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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109 views

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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55 views

What is the best word for this context: May or Should?

• This Quotation is a confidential document provided strictly for the party to whom it is addressed and may neither be used for any purpose other than as intended nor shared with any other party • ...
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“you have sooner or later to” - why is “have to” split into two parts?

Playing a sport, any kind of sport, coming from a sports oriented family and not trying hard, you have sooner or later to face some awkward questions at dinner, such as... Source: Tennis ...
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80 views

Present Tense Construction using “May”

Is it correct to say: “I'm not planning on leaving the country any time soon, but you just don't know when a passport may come in handy”? One issue raised about the sentence was the usage of ...
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3answers
59 views

Must in past. Obligation versus deduction

If you can use "have" as a modifier to make modals past tense, why can't we apply them across the board. For example May/Might in past "you might have known." Or "He must have been here." These are ...
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54 views

“Will” vs “Would” in the sentence [closed]

On the Day of Judgement when nothing but God's justice WILL reign supreme. or On the Day of Judgement when nothing but God's justice WOULD reign supreme. Which of the two is correct? ...
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1answer
71 views

'I think' and 'I would think' difference

What is the difference between the two, are they intеrchangable? I heard this dialogue in a movie: Someone spilled coke on the transmitter It was beer. I would think. Could he just ...
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4answers
14k views

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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“May” & “Might”: What's the right context?

I may not be coming in tomorrow... I might not be coming in tomorrow... When could I use "may" & "might"?
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3answers
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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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1answer
65 views

Is a past tense protasis necessarily hypothetical when followed by an apodosis with “would have”?

Is a protasis with a verb in the past tense necessarily interpreted as a hypothetical condition when followed by an apodosis with "would have" + past participle? For example, is the sentence If ...
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1answer
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Usage/meaning of would in this very specific context (book)

Can anyone explain me the meaning of would (underlined) in this specific context? How would you rephrase this sentence? It's an excerpt from the book In the Teeth of The Evidence: And Other Mysteries ...
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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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47 views

Modals usage can/could [closed]

We were checking some exercises and I wanted to know what's the correct modal to use: Gemma is away in Australia all summer. You ___ (can / see) her yesterday! The answer is can't have seen, ...
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1answer
104 views

Can linking verbs function as modal verbs?

Here is an example: Police say there appear to be signs of a break-in. And I wonder why not appears instead of appear.
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56 views

Using modal verb “would” as a main verb

I've found around the web sentences of this form, which are using model verb "would" as a main/conjugated verb. I would to be ... Or I would to eat this food. I think those are ...
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108 views

“I have had to take a leave.” is it grammatically correct?

I am little bit confused about English grammar structure about have had to and its uses, and I need some clarification on the same. For example: I have had to take a leave. Is that grammatically ...
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The origin of “used to” and “supposed to”

Is anyone aware of where these phrasal modals that look like passive constructions come from? Were they originally passives (for example: "he was supposed to do xyz by someone else") that eventually ...
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Wouldn't have been alone

Listening to the BBC one of the journalists made the following utterance when discussing a historic figure, "The Khan". A: For merchants the crucial issue was protection when traveling. B: I ...
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106 views

“Your trip must have been fun” vs “Your trip has to have been fun”

I think these following sentences are equivalent in terms of meaning. I'd like to ask if there is subtle difference in terms of meaning? Which one is more common?Can we say one or other is more ...
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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 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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219 views

“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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1answer
546 views

She may have reasoned that it 'would have been' against her own economic self interest

She may have reasoned that it would have been against her own economic self interest to disclose the worst case scenario Source My question is: In this sentence why are we using "would have ...
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1answer
2k 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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321 views

would come vs. would have come?

Which is the difference between the following constructions? He told me that he would come. (would + base form = present conditional) He told me that he would have come. (would + have + past ...
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Is it possible to say “we were better” meaning “we better” in the past tense?

I know that textbooks maintain that this phrase (even not exactly this, since it's the "incorrect" version of "we had better") should be used only in the present and future tenses but I wonder if it's ...
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Just how many moods are there in English?

Most sources say that there are just three (indicative, imperative, and subjunctive) and others list several more and are not consistent. All the modal auxiliaries seem to form distinct moods: do ...
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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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Can “should” be used in first-person, past-tense narration?

Consider this excerpt from fiction in which the character is considering a course of action: We weren’t making any progress. Every suggestion I made seemed to make him angrier. Maybe I should ...
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47 views

Need and need to [duplicate]

Which one of the two sentences - "Do I need mention that she is my wife" or "Do I need to mention that she is my wife" - is correct use.
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83 views

“should” in conditionals

I'm having trouble with should. The third conditional is fine: If you had known about the safety hazard at the plant, you should have told someone. However, for the second conditional I'm ...
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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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Why is the past tense of “may”, “might”?

Why is the past tense of may, might? When you see other past forms of auxiliary verbs, they usually have -ould, like should, could, and would. Unlike other forms, the past tense of may is might not ...
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1answer
111 views

When is “need” a modal verb, and when is it not? [closed]

When do we use "need" as a modal verb and say "need something" or "need do something", and when do we say: "need to do something" "I needed" "he needs" etc.? Can we use "will need"?
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320 views

Grammar correctness of “could” sentence

I would like to know whether the following is correct: Someone is knocking on your door. Who could it be? As far as I know, modal verbs do not change its form in reported speech: He ...
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81 views

How do I choose between “can” and “could”? [duplicate]

Where can we go? Where could we go? Can you pass me the salt? Could you pass me the salt? Which sentence is more appropriate and why? What are the differences?
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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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Sentence with would or used to [closed]

Having the following sentences: He wouldn't like us to be stuck at home. He didn't use to like us being stuck at home. Which one is correct? Can I use both?
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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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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 ...