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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A tense problem about the use of “Could”

Here is a paragraph from the HP books: Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did... if it got out that they were related to a pair of---well, he didn't ...
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tense problem about the use of modal verbs

I have been reading the Harry Potter series recently, and here are three examples of the use of modal verbs: What could he have been thinking of?It must have been a trick of the light. He'd never ...
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A tense question about the use of modal verbs in the Harry Potter series

I am reading the Harry Potter series recently and I have difficulty in understanding the following 3 examples: 1) What could he have been thinking of?It must have been a trick of the light. 2)But ...
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Why is it supposed to be “couldn't get” instead of “couldn't got”? [migrated]

Why is "Why couldn't she get tickets" correct instead of "Why couldn't she got tickets"? Why is it get in the present instead of got in the past tense?
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I am trying to find out differences between between a bunch of “would” conditionals [duplicate]

I am confused about how to correctly use if with would (+have) or could (+have) while talking about past activities in conditionals. Please check out these sentences and help me to figure out their ...
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Why there are only 5 modal verbs in English [duplicate]

Modal is a type of auxiliary verb. The complete list of them are: Can/could/be able to May/might Shall/should Must/have to Will/would Another (unnamed?) category of verbs is these 3: Have Be Do ...
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Which modal verbs mean bigger or less probability of something to happen? [closed]

I would like to know a degree of probability wich modal verbs indicate when used. If there is any probability scale for these verbs from the lowest probability to highest. I am also interested in how ...
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1answer
79 views

It must have been love, but [closed]

... but it’s over now. I remembered one episode which took place 6 or 7 years ago. I was at the English class, and the teacher was an American student who had been asked to be a teacher just for one ...
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Present participle clause with modal verbs

I am studying how to use present participle clauses in sentences. Like: Because Tom felt hungry, he went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Can be written as: Feeling hungry, Tom went into ...
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1answer
61 views

How can one use 'would' and 'could' both, consecutively?

I encountered a sentence in an article. The writer (an Australian) has used both 'could' and 'would' consecutively in a sentence. The sentence is But I was determined to make a statement: would ...
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Modal verbs and Past Perfect

Is it possible to use modal verbs in Past Perfect? I know we can use modal verb + perfect infinitive to talk about the past, e.g. I shouldn't have said that. This is Past Simple tense, isn't it? I ...
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What is the appropriate pairing of verb forms here?

Here is the sentence: If we all choose a personal or ceramic cup, we could save 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Am I wrong to think that "choose" and "could save" are an incorrect ...
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'Expect' followed by S + will + V?

Looking up 'expect' will bring up discussions of whether it should be followed by the infinitive or a present participle, and the infinitive is the winner. But what about when using a modal verb, ...
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Need do Vs need to do [duplicate]

I have come across need to do something and need do something. My question is what's the difference between each other? My grammar book doesn't mention it
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Speculations and deductions

I am very curious to know if: “ She probably should have had the cake" is grammatically correct.In other words Iam in doubt whether we can use adverbs of certainty, like probably, along with ...
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'People are to find these ideas throughout his later work'

According to Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, page 206, With a passive the interpretation can be strong deontic, “must” ([ii] He is to be left alone), or weak dynamic, “can” ([iii] ...
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Water can/may still get in

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language , page 184, reads May is virtually excluded instead of can in water can still get in, partly by the likelihood of it being interpreted epistemically ...
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Is “may or may not” a correct way of negation of “may”?

In my paper, I wrote this sentence: Individual fitness then may or may not project into the population-level demography rates. Now I started to doubt if it is correct! Because if I look up the ...
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there + (modal) + passive

What's your opinion on using "there + (modal) + passive"? Is it natural? There are a lot of such examples in scholar.google.com (for example "there should be used", "there can be distinguished" or "...
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46 views

Could - was able to [closed]

I know that when people refer to a single past occasion (one-off action) the usage of "was able to" is correct while "could" is not: "But when the time came I could pull the trigger". (this sentence ...
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Father was used to carrying luggage anyway. Is 'used to' used as helping verb?

I've come across the above sentence in a story. The structure "used to + present participle" puzzles me a bit. please explain its meaning and usage.
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Indirect Form for perfect modals (past modals)

Is the question formation correct? Could she have killed her? What could you have possibly eaten? How about in these? I was wondering if she could have killed her. I was wondering what ...
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1answer
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“Could” with verbs of perception (was/were able to) vs Expressing specific action in the past [closed]

I'm puzzled about the usage of a modal verb could. My book "LONGMAN ENGLISH GRAMMAR PRACTICE" by L.G Alexander says that We use was/were able to or managed to (not could) to describe the ...
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“I thought you had left us” vs “I thought you would have left us”

What is the difference between these two sentences: "I thought you had left us" vs "I thought you would have left us" I believe there is a distinction, namely whether you did in fact leave or not. In ...
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Should I use “would” here? [duplicate]

Which of these sentence structures should I use? I prefer the two-day course structure of this training versus the three-day structure. Or I would prefer the two-day course structure of this ...
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Meaning of this sentence with would

My friend said I did not think I would marry her. Why did he use would in that sentence?
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using would + have to in non-conditional sentences

Which timeline (past vs present vs future) does this sentence indicate? Project managers would have to organize copywriters, editors, and designers as well as feedback from clients or other ...
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The use of the future tense for describing one's usual routines [duplicate]

In this video at 5 minute and 50 seconds, for reasons unknown to me, a speaker used the future tense for describing his usual routine. So in the assistance portion of my workout, I will choose row ...
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The use of the grammar structure “if” + “would” in context

I stumbled upon it in this video. It is at 1 hour 21 minute and 42 second. If the Israelis would ever once just say we got screwed in 1948, and we are sorry it happened, we would be willing to make ...
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What time are we talking about in “She’ll have bought a new mobile/cellphone yesterday”?

I encountered this sentence when I was learning another language. I have never used such a sentence in English nor seen one, but it seems it exists. What idea does this sentence trying to convey? ...
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Could have been disappointed - is that a correct usage of could have been?

It is to my understanding that 'could have been' talks about a possible present situation that have not happened but is possible in the present and should be followed by a verb in a continuous form. ...
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Why did the use of “if you shall” and “if you should” dramatically decline?

Google Books statistics indicate that the use of the expression "if you should" and especially of the expression "if you shall" per unit of text length dramatically and steadily declined since the ...
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Why do conditional sentences with “would have had to” have an extra “had” in them?

Well, i was reading about Type Three conditionals. In the main clause we use if + past perfect (had), then in the second clause we use either the "perfect conditional" or the "perfect continuous ...
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what is the difference between must and must be?

I do not know which answer is correct? (I suppose the first one shows how likely it is that he is doing that activity right now) A: He does not answer his phone! B: He must be driving or He must ...
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must have washed downstream VS must have been washed downstream

There are two hikers hiking near a stream. One of them seeing it in says: Look! A miner's old pack and gear! Must have washed downstream! My question is: Is it just a simple passive voice sentence ...
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Constructions after “have to”

According to Murphy's English Grammar in Use you can use "have to" in all forms, and he offers an example in the past simple and another one in the present perfect tense. Hence, I was wondering if had ...
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2answers
376 views

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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1answer
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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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1answer
161 views

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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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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194 views

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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203 views

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. With this sentence I want to say 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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