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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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What tense is “I could have played tennis.”?

My understanding is that the sentence I will have played tennis. is future perfect. But, what happens if I substitute the word "will" with a modal such as "could" or "ought to"? Does that change ...
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Modal verbs' tense consistency

I have a question concerning tense consistency of modals which don't have the past form like (will/would). Do we put these modals in the past tense (perfect) if the surrounding verbs are in the past ...
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Usage of “could” in past to indicate “statements of fact”

I am aware of the usage of COULD in the following cases (list from Cambridge Grammar (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/modals-and-modality/could)): possibility in the present ...
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Non-obligational sense/use of “should” for discussing future plans

In discussion of translating between English and another language I saw some people insisting English "should" must be translated as though it has the obligation sense even in contexts like these: I ...
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Use of modal verb in future tense

I came up with the following sentence construction: The institute shall provide books to students who successfully complete all evaluation processes following training. Can this sentence be ...
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I'm trying to figure out why there is “to be” instead of “is” in the sentence

Why do I have to put "to be" instead of "is" or "will be" in the sentence below. Could you explain what grammar rule this is? What I should seek in Google? I didn't expect the graphics of the video ...
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What meaning does “would” hold in the following sentence

They were the last people you would expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense. I know that would is in a relative clause here. What ...
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Which modal can be used in this sentence

They left only an hour ago. They could hardly have arrived yet. I'm not sure if I can use could in the sentence above.
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which modals or expressions with modals are correct

The grammar test was not a problem at all. It could/ can't have been easier, in fact. The meat is a bit burnt. You ought not to cook / You ought not to have cooked it for so long. It’s funny you ...
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Can I use 'could not' to talk about negative possibilities? [closed]

In this video (at 3:43) some guy told me that I can't use 'could' to talk about negative possibilities. Is it true? If so, why? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMGxeChtYLc They might not be ready....
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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: I already read the other question while researching prior to asking this, and it didn't answer my question. Come on, you gotta believe me! The other ...
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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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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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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”? ...