Questions tagged [modality]

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7 votes
1 answer
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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 may be ...
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7 votes
1 answer
9k 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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3 votes
3 answers
21k 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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3 votes
1 answer
12k 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 'filler' ...
3 votes
1 answer
150 views

Performative "allow, permit, let"

According to Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, page 208, Allow, permit, and let can express deontic possibility, permission, but are also used more generally in a causative sense similar ...
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2 votes
1 answer
2k 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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2 votes
1 answer
5k 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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2 votes
1 answer
282 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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2 votes
0 answers
62 views

What is the number of the verb in "We require that"? [duplicate]

I am writing a paper in which I need an object to satisfy a condition. (I can give the specifics here, but it seems to be irrelevant to the question.) The object is singular, so I originally wrote (...
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2 votes
1 answer
180 views

Can for future possibility

I'm doing a research on English modality (for reference I'm using F.R. Palmer's book "Modality and the English Modals"). In the book the author distinguishes between the three kinds of modality: ...
2 votes
0 answers
73 views

'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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1 vote
1 answer
4k 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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
386 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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1 vote
1 answer
2k 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
4k 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 ...
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1 vote
0 answers
47 views

How does this deliberate use of grammar mistakes add to one's delivery? [closed]

I've come across this expression used by native English speakers multiple times and excuse me for my reference to the language 'He don't give a sh*t.' Some of them are actually or at least set as ...
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1 vote
2 answers
261 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, ...
0 votes
1 answer
503 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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0 votes
2 answers
3k 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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0 votes
2 answers
84 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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0 votes
1 answer
920 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 ...
0 votes
0 answers
291 views

Modal Verbs and Sequence of Tenses

Should the clause “I would/should think” be followed by another also in the past, according to the rules of tense sequence? I should think he was here [I think he is here now]. I should think the ...
0 votes
1 answer
46 views

The meaning of ‘must have to’

I have collected the following examples from a corpus: (1) Ohio is of course a battleground state that made observers, indeed most observers say Donald Trump must have to win this election. But can ...
0 votes
0 answers
74 views

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 ...