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Questions tagged [modality]

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2answers
29 views

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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2answers
51 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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0answers
26 views

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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1answer
714 views

Future perfect for predictions?

I have seen a discussion regarding Harry Potter quotes, such as: Voldemort will not have made it easy to discover his hiding place. Which is said in a situation when Voldemort had hidden the thing ...
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1answer
2k views

How are “might” and “may” used in the past?

OK, we all know that epistemic modals such as may and might can be interchanged to express possibility in present & future For example: he might be late, and he may be late are almost the same. ...
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1answer
825 views

Difference between “to be not” and “not to be” recommended

Are both to be not recommended and not to be recommended the negation of to be recommended? Or is there a difference? For example, not to be says that something should not be recommended, as in the ...
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1answer
3k views

Words like 'maybe', 'possibly', 'might' 'likely'

What is the technical term for words that indicate probability? For example: You might mean this, but possibly that instead. And some such words can be tagged on the end, maybe I thought of '...
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1answer
382 views

He must regret his decision vs He must be regretting his decision

(1) He must regret his decision. (2) He must be regretting his decision. If you're sure that "he" regrets his decision, can you say either (1) or (2)? In other words, can (2) be interpreted as ...
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2answers
192 views

Grammatical explanation of statement “He will not be questioned.”

Seems to me that it is equivalent to "He is not to be questioned." There's an element of declaration or assertion I can't pin down! Context is Stephen Miller speaking about Trump's travel ban, ...
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1answer
181 views

What are the differences between “can not V”, “could not V”, “can not have V-ed”, & “could not have V-ed”?

It is too hard to understand modal verbs because different sites say different things, or maybe they say the same things but using different terms. Here is what I think, but I am not sure I am right. ...
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1answer
1k views

When can I say “I could not have passed the test”?

I am nonnative speaker & I often ask a lot of questions that native people have never thought about. Ok, this site says: "Couldn't have" is used to show someone's feeling that something in ...
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0answers
716 views

So, “Modal Verbs of Probability” also means “Modal Verbs of Possibility”?

In dictionaries, possibility: [uncountable, countable] the fact that something might exist or happen, but is not certain to also in dictionaries, probability: [uncountable, countable] how ...
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2answers
1k views

“should be studying” or “should have been studying” when the opportunity is lost by 50%?

Ok, for a lost opportunity, we use "should have + PP" Ex: You have just missed the train because you woke up late. You should have gone to bed early yesterday. But What about when the opportunity ...
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1answer
1k views

So, “might have been sleeping” (Modal perfect continuous) corresponds to past continuous, present perfect continuous or past perfect continuous?

"Modal + have + PP" refers to the past But it is quite ambiguous!! What does "the past" mean? Simple Past, Present perfect, Past perfect all refers to the past. So the question is: Does Modal + ...
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1answer
709 views

Meaning of “will” in “I will be unable to meet with you tomorrow as arranged” [closed]

According to grammar rules, "will" can be used to mean: a1) promise or decision; a2) prediction based on opinion, while "going to" mean: b1) plan; b2) prediction based on evidence. But in that ...
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3answers
12k views

What is the meaning of “would”, and how to use it?

What is the meaning of would, and which tense is it used in the following sentences? For example, That would be Ram calling. I'll answer it. (the meaning of would and which tense is used) The guy on ...
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1answer
246 views

What does the perfect infinitive mean?

I came across a sentence recently: Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book. Could someone explain to me what does it actually mean? I'd rather say: Before I turn 40, I want to write a book. ...
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1answer
4k views

Why are “dynamic” and “deontic” modalities so called?

It is said that there are three types of modality: deontic, epistemic and dynamic. Here are sample sentences for each type of modality: (1) You can stay as long as you want. [deontic] (2) You ...