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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17 views

'can' in if-clause

Is it ok to use "can" in the if-clause of Type 1 conditional sentences? For example: "I'll try find the audio files later. If I can't find them I'll record everything for you" Is this sentence ...
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40 views

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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41 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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110 views

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
66 views

“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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40 views

“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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2answers
31 views

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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47 views

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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74 views

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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24 views

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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60 views

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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1answer
42 views

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
198 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
41 views

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
104 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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1answer
76 views

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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79 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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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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86 views

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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102 views

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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3answers
61 views

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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61 views

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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204 views

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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190 views

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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3answers
704 views

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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314 views

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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69 views

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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180 views

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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329 views

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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151 views

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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136 views

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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1answer
480 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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128 views

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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38 views

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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781 views

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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1answer
1k views

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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500 views

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?