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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What is the difference between 'can', 'could', 'may' and 'might'?

I'm a native English speaker and I've been doing some research into English grammar for a programme I'm working on. However, on looking into modal verbs, I've only just come to appreciate how subtle ...
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4answers
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“May not have [noun]” or “may have not [noun]”

Which of the following is correct: may not have or may have not? For example, which sentence should one write? They may not have apples. They may have not apples.
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1answer
53 views

She can/might get a job as a teacher?

We were asked a question in an exam, from Grammarway 4. The question was: She ... get a job as a teacher. She loves children. I prefered to use "can" because I thought that was possibility but ...
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1answer
117 views

Difference in the usage? ; It “can / could / must” be something serious

I'm teaching English in Japan. I'm using "Grammar In Use Intermediate Workbook" (Cambridge). The following is the question in the workbook: Complete the sentence. Use can, could, must or (be) ...
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58 views

“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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1answer
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The usage of “could” and “can” in questions [duplicate]

Which of the following is more appropriate? Can you go? Could you go? Is there anything wrong in asking like this "Could you go?"
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2answers
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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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4answers
109 views

Is use of “shall” archaic?

A friend of mine, pursuing BA(Hons) in English corrected me that no one uses shall now and often it is advised to prefer the use of should, would, etc. Although Downton Abbey is set upon a time ...
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3answers
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grammar: could versus would be able to

I'd like to be a dog walker because I think I'd be able to or I could control several dogs at once. The person's speaking about her abilities in the conditional. Is could be used in this ...
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1answer
34 views

“She must have done that, mustn't she?” (Tail/tag questions with “Can/may/must + Present Perfect”)

How often can you hear an educated native speaker say She can't have done that, can she? She can have done that, can't she? She mustn't have done that, must she? She must have done that, mustn't ...
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9answers
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Is “Can I have a cup of coffee?” polite? [closed]

Is "Can I have a cup of coffee?" polite? What if I ask a store employee, "Can I have something?"
2
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3answers
163 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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2answers
58 views

Past for modal verbs meaning [duplicate]

Here are two examples from Murphy grammar textbook: 1)"I didn't see you at Michael's party last week - No, I had to work that night, so I couldn't come." 2)"I think I saw you at Michael's party last ...
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2answers
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Modal verbs for logical deduction

What's the difference between must and should when used for logical deduction? Can they be used interchangeably? Here's an example: "You must be tired after your long journey." - MUST "I've ...
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1answer
89 views

Omitting verbs, is it correct?

I wonder if I could omit the second 'visit' in such sentence: You have to visit all the places, which she wants to (visit) Would it be correct? Thanks in advance :)
2
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2answers
134 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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1answer
305 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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3answers
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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 ...
2
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1answer
57 views

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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2answers
67 views

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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1answer
37 views

Finite and non-finite clauses: “We have washed the dishes”

I have a quick question regarding finite and non-finite clauses if I may? In clauses that contain modal or auxiliary verbs marked for tense AND a non-finite element, is the clause finite or ...
2
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2answers
193 views

Future tense of the word “Can” [duplicate]

What is the future tense of the word can? One way to express it is "will be able to", but what is actually the future tense of "can" ?
5
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3answers
2k views

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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2answers
76 views

Sudden shift to present perfect in McCarthy's “The Road”

I have a question regarding "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. The book is written in past tense and uses past perfect form to tell us of what had happened before, but in this sentence Cormac uses present ...
2
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1answer
92 views

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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1answer
80 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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2answers
96 views
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2answers
58 views

Is “know how to” a phrasal modal? [closed]

I know how to do it If not, how would you analyze this?
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1answer
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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 ...
3
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1answer
78 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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2answers
81 views

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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4answers
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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 ...
2
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4answers
413 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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2answers
60 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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4answers
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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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1answer
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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 ...
2
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3answers
95 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 ...
3
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1answer
62 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? ...
3
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1answer
232 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
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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 ...
27
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11answers
17k views

“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"?
137
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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 ...
3
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1answer
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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
61 views

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 ...
27
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4answers
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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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2answers
60 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, ...
3
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1answer
108 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.
0
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1answer
60 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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0answers
195 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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0answers
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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 ...