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Questions tagged [modal-verbs]

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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Meaning of “could” in a question. Implied condition

I have a question concerning the meaning of "could" in this sentence: "It could refer back to the subject, Jane, or it could refer to somebody else." As I understand this, there's an implied ...
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Meaning of “could” in these sentences

Good day everyone. So I have Michael Swan's grammar book "Practical English Usage" and there's a couple of sections concerning to usage of "could". So in 82.3 it says that we use could to talk about ...
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Modal verbs of probability

'I think the doctors didn't expect Bob to wake up.' I must change this sentence using May. Which version is correct? 'The doctors may have not been expecting Bob to wake up.' 'The doctors may have ...
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Use of modal verbs in narration

I often come across the following usage of modal verbs in novels: "But Turing would die before completing and publishing his final musings". Why not simple past like "But Turing died before completing ...
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The modal verb Be to

Is this sentence correct? I am to win the competition? In this sentence I mean that I must win the competition.
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Can I use “should” in this particular sentence?

You are feeling ill. I would stay at home if I were you. Can I replace would with should? Like this: You are feeling ill. I should stay at home if I were you. It seems illogical to me; however I ...
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How to negate the double modal construction “might could” (and others)?

I have relatives from the southern U.S., and they often use double modal verbs in their speech, like "I might could go to the market". I understand that this isn't considered standard, but it got me ...
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Why can't the word “can” be used in future tense (will can)?

I'm curious about why the English word can cannot be used in future tense (e.g. will can). An example unrelated to English is French term je pourrai, but that's exactly what I mean. Compare German ...
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Is this imperative sentence wrong: “Make sure you wouldn't use the stairs”?

In making a list of school rules, one of my students wrote the sentence "Make sure you wouldn't use the stairs." I feel that using the imperative "Make sure" followed by the modal verb "would't" is ...
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whether the given statement is right or wrong [closed]

You can leave after you will finish the work. Is this formation correct? The main clause is in present tense and the subordinate clause is in the future tense.
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Antonym of “assume” or; a synonym of “assume” and its antonym

As the title implies, I am looking for a good, simple, single word antonym of "assume". Alternatively, if no good antonym exists that satisfies the requirements below, I am also open to suggestions ...
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Doesn't “I may/might possibly do something,” sound pleonastic?

The question is to do with the expression of degrees of certainty: modal auxiliary will expresses certainty, whereas modal auxiliary may/might expresses uncertainty, doubt; "Someone may/might do ...
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Will and can for typical 'behaviour' of inanimate objects: any difference?

In Michael Swan's Practical English Usage, fourth edition, entry number 86, entitled 'typical behaviour, can, could, may, might, will, would', I found this example sentence: Sulphuric acid will ...
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Can the modal 'must' be used in the apodosis of a remote conditional?

CGEL* has this on page 149: The open conditional is the default type, while remote conditionals have the following properties: [3] i Subordinate clause: must contain a preterite (or irrealis ...
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Past modals and the passive: which one is correct?

Considering easily as an attitude or manner adverb, which of the following is correct? He could easily have been killed. or He could have been easily killed.
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A question about one point of Donald Trump’s speech at Helsinki

At his recent Helsinki summit, while reading from a prepared, written speech, Donald Trump said during his opening remarks and then later tweeted, quoting himself: I would rather take a political ...
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Hybrid of “can” and “may”?

Not a duplicate! Here are the differences: The slightly older question asks what the most appropriate word to use in a restaurant setting is. My question asks about the logically correct word to use ...
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1answer
181 views

We walked vs we would walk [duplicate]

I'm writing about a past event and I'm unsure which sentence is technically correct. We walked on the beach or We would walk on the beach. I'm aiming for less is best in my writing without ...
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Why modals use present perfect not simple past

I teach ESL for a community college. We just did a unit on "modals of probability" (can't, couldn't, must, should, may, might, could). For the simple present tense, we use this formula "modal + base ...
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Modal verbs in tag line

I work in one of the industries where there's a lack of trust across the board. You know the type: Used car salesmen Banks/bankers Estate agents The way I look at it, you can ignore it completely ...
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in case + verb form [closed]

Thinking things through, here ... (a) Bring a pen, in case you need to take some notes (b) Bring a pen, in case you needed to take some notes (c) Bring a pen, in case you might need to ...
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“Can I” vs “May I” in restaurant setting when ordering

A while back, while we were getting fast food, my friend commented on my usage of "can" versus "may" when asking to take my order. I said: Can I have a ....... and my friend argued you're ...
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Should I use “had to” or “must” in this sentence?

Which one is correct here: "had to" or "must"? I didnt want to go there but i know that i had to I didnt want to go there but i know that i must
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Should have/Would have - simple problem

I understand that should have/would have etc. are used to refer to something unrealistic or contrary to what has really happened. I do, however, have several questions. I know that this form is most ...
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What is the structure of “might did”?

What is the structure of might + verb (in past tense) called? I might said it. (Instead of I might have said it.) I might did it. (Instead of I might have done it.) I might did say it. (Instead of ...
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Question tag for “you must have felt it too”?

Which of these question tags is most appropriate for There has been an earthquake. You must have felt it too, __ ? – , haven't you? – , didn't you? – , mustn't you?
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Is “I could sing in an a Capella group, but I can't sing.” a “Guess” or an “ability” in the film “The social network”?

As we know, modal verbs "could" & "can't" can be used to guess something or state an ability. Eg: She could be at home now (=It is possible that she is at home now. The chance is 50%) She can't ...
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Modal “will can” [closed]

Does the following make any sense? "I will can" I saw a post where someone wrote "I will can". Is this grammatically right or wrong?
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“I can't be available” vs “I will not be available”

I had written “I can't be available from 9-10.” My friends suggested that I rewrite it as “I can't be available from 9-10”. Both answers were not satisfying me. I had searched on the internet for ...
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Non-equivalence of might and may

Although might may have become the main exponent of epistemic possibility in every day spoken English, it is generally not synonymous with may, as the following example, borrowed from Charreyre (...
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1answer
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The difference between “should + to be” and “should + be”

I'm often facing a situation where "should + to be" form takes place. But from Grammar modal verb "should" takes a verb without particle "to". Here examples of cases: "should + to be": The ...
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would have ppt for expressing likelihood/certainty about something in the past

I know quite well how to use "would have" + ppt for desired actions which were not possible due to some external causes: "I would have visited you but I forgot the address". However, I often see ...
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Question version of Must have

Read below a sentence She must have gone. I know it's a conclusion and it represents a past action, but if I want to convert it into a question, What should I say out of the following? : (1) ...
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Modals in the past + reported speech

If the original sentence looks like this: You should have asked me, 'Can I take your car?' Should the 'reported speech' one look like this: You should have asked me if you could take my car. ...
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How does “would” work in the following sentences?

How does "would" work in the following sentences? Is "would" tentative or hypothetical situation here? Any advice that you give would be appreciated. -Regarding the "Glorious is God" example. The ...
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Should I place “sometimes” and “might” in a single sentence?

Should I place "sometimes" and "might" in a single sentence? For example, the sentence "Sometimes it might be true." is correct but seems redundant. A. "Sometimes it might be true." B. "Sometimes ...
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IELTS Question on Correct Modal of Probability

I wonder if someone could help with a grammar debate a couple of ESL teacher friends and I are having. This is a multiple choice question from an IELTS test. He ________ gone to work yesterday. ...
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Is there a briefer expression for expectation of ability, like “should be able to do something”

I am TA'ing in a class as a non-native speaker in the United States. It's just too mouthful every time I repeat these words "you should be able to..." when I speak to students about what is expected. ...
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What type of word is “must”? [closed]

First of all, let me give you these example sentences: there is a storm there was a storm there has been a storm there had been a storm Every one of the above examples expresses that there certainly ...
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What is the meaning of “should” in the following excerpt?

This is my first question so I apologize for some inadvertent mistakes. My question revolves around an excerpt from book called "Between Churchill and Stalin The Soviet Union Great Britain and the ...
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Historical resistance to inanimate 'will'

English, it is said, has no future tense. To indicate future we do not inflect our verbs but instead use the modal verb will. In his answer to Why do we say “was supposed to” for “should have”? ...
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Modal verbs in reporting

'Advanced Grammar In Use' (AGU) by Martin Hewings, UNIT 37 C, says: The verbs could, would, should, might, needn't, ought to, used to, and could have, should have, etc. don't change in the report: ...
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Is “couldn't have had a more encouraging XYZ than…” ambiguous?

Have a look at the following sentence – He couldn't have had a more encouraging opening in films than our grown-up make-up boy had. On the contrary he must have had to face more uncertain and ...
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Is splitting modal verbs incorrect?

For example: Could I not tell her about the party? Would the sentence above be correct or incorrect? Both ways, does someone know why?
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Are “can’t have been” and “couldn’t have been” interchangeable in these two sentences?

I was doing an exercise in my textbook but when I checked the results I was quite surprised at what the key showed. I really thought that in these two contexts I could use “can’t have been”/“couldn’t ...
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Can “must have” be used to indicate an obligation?

I have searched an answer for this one and thr closest I could find was that when one means obligation in the past, one should use "had to" rather than "must have", and on the other hand, when a ...
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Can “would” be used twice in an English conditional sentence and still be grammatical?

I know how conditional if clause sentences work. I'm aware of the rules which I have to follow. However, I sometimes use would after would which of course is incorrect in terms of grammar. Is there ...
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147 views

first conditional could modal

I'm trying to clarify why this sentence seems wrong: If there is no strict definition, everyone could understand migration slightly differently. My initial response was that it was wrong, but why?...
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“How could I” and “how could I have” in rhetorical questions

I have a question about using could and could have in rhetorical questions. I was watching a video where a very old man who was talking to a priest about his childhood asked the priest, “How could I ...
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Can the modal auxiliary verbs be considered to be in the present tense (form, not meaning)?

According to Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, modal auxiliary verbs do not normally have past tenses: The modal auxiliary verbs are will, would, shall, should, can, could, ought, may, ...