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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Breaking Tense: “May be” vs. “May have been”

This may be simple or trivial, but when writing in the past tense, is it wrong to switch to present tense to use the verb "may be"? Sharon may be irrational, but it was not completely her fault. ...
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Tenses and modals. Must have been vs. had to be

I have a question regarding modals: must have/had to. When an author of a book, that's written in past tense, chooses to use modal "must" he has to use its past tense form: The car crashed. The ...
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Is there a more precise phrase for “can and should?”

The idea that one is able and obligated to act is often conveyed through the phrase, "can and should." Is there a way to convey the same idea through a single word or is there a stronger way to ...
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Mid position adverb

I am confused with the use of mid position adverbs in passive sentences, you can check in Google Scholar that these two structure is used more often than their counterparts. "can also be seen" and "...
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What are the differences between: “has/have + [got] to have been” & “had [got] to be” & “had [got] to have been”?

Considering the modal verbs "Have to" and "Have got to" to express in certainty the state of someone/something. Are the following forms syntactically correct: Present: sub + has/have + [got] to be +...
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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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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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She would break“ or ”She broke": which is better in this sentence?

Have a look at this sentence: (A) She would broke/ (B) a plate every day/ (C) when she came to Delhi last month/ (D) No error. I think part (A) of the sentence is erroneous, and I want to know ...
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“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 she?...
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Using “will” after “if”

I've been told that native-speakers don't ever use "will" after "if", and that saying it this way is a not-native style. So from the film (Harry Potter, pt5) I noticed a line that confused me. Look ...
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“You had better not do that.”

Can someone analyse this for me? Because thinking about it is making my head spin. "You had better not do that." In my understanding, 'do' is a bare infinitive, and is like 'to do'. 'Had' is a verb--...
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201 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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Is it may or might?

I know that the past tense of may is might so, basically, if the truth of the situation is known, you use "might have." For example: If I were to go to the store but didn't, I would say: I might ...
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Why is “can” such an odd verb?

The English verb can is very strange for several reasons: It drops the to on any infinitive verb forms that follow it. That is, unlike in the verb want in the sentence I want to eat, you would not ...
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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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“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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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?"
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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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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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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 :)
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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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337 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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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 ...
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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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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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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 non-...
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2answers
241 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" ?
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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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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 ...
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107 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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94 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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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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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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'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 learners....
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4answers
647 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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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 Arena ...
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103 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
112 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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“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? Also ...
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421 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 ...