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15 votes

What is the history of "may" being used to mean "must"?

The OED dates this sense of the word back to 1715: Where a Statute directs the doing of a Thing for the sake of Justice or the publick Good, the Word may is the same as the Word shall; thus 23 H.6. ...
Laurel's user avatar
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11 votes
Accepted

Can the continuous form be combined with the passive voice?

The first site is wrong: He has been being treated for imbecility for almost twenty years and has not yet recovered his wits. In 2007 he had been being treated for imbecility for ten years and had ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Is "don't" a particle of its own?

Questions like Why do you play chess? display subject auxiliary inversion; the auxiliary verb do appears before the subject you. In a normal declarative clause, the adverb not occurs after the first ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
7 votes
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Not your run of the ‘will’ question tag

A tag after a declarative is checking whether the sentence is true, and that's why you see the same auxiliary used in the sentence. We stress auxiliaries or move them to the front of the sentence when ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
7 votes

Is "used" an auxiliary verb in this sentence?

There's up to three auxiliary verbs in your sentence, depending on what grammar you subscribe to, or who you pay your dues to, as Professor Lawler used to say. The verb used is sometimes an auxiliary ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
6 votes

Adverbs in the mid-position when there is more than one verb

What is called "mid-position" in your grammar corresponds to what is termed "medial position" in A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language". In this latter grammar, this ...
LPH's user avatar
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5 votes

What is (do) for here?

Only often triggers "inversion", where the subject and verb switch places. A simpler example of that might be: Only later are we told why. (meaning "We aren't told why until later&...
ruakh's user avatar
  • 15.5k
5 votes
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What Does He Do

The first and second uses of the verb do are different. The first do ("what does") is an auxiliary verb, which doesn't have meaning on its own, except to properly phrase a question. The auxiliary do ...
Juhasz's user avatar
  • 7,503
5 votes

NICE Properties of Auxiliary Verbs

From a syntactic point of view, auxiliary verbs are verbs in that they conjugate (I am, he has, she did) and mark tense when necessary (i.e, in tensed clauses where they appear first), and auxiliaries ...
John Lawler's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Sentence start with auxiliary-verb

You can read "should the system crash in the middle, the information...can be found in the journal" as a conditional that would more commonly be expressed as: If the system should crash in ...
Shoe's user avatar
  • 33.1k
5 votes

Why isn't "I had to" contracted to "I'd to" unlike other auxiliary usage of the verb "had"?

"Had" in "I had to leave" is not an auxiliary verb. It can even be used with an auxiliary, e.g. "I have had to leave", "I might have to leave". And it always (...
Forero's user avatar
  • 75
4 votes

"Yes, I will be"

Hmmf, well the question used to ask if someone could prove if this phrase was grammatical but this response inspired a edit removing that request for a proof. So what follows now seems a bit silly. I ...
candied_orange's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Is there a more precise phrase for "can and should?"

In moral philosophy there is the concept "ought implies can" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ought_implies_can). In other words, you have no moral obligation to do something which you are not capable ...
Richard Shepherd's user avatar
4 votes

Why don't we use "do" in an interrogative object clause?

In English, you used to be able to form questions by inverting the verb and the subject. So Shakespeare could say where go you with bats and clubs? We no longer do this: If the main verb has an ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
4 votes

Why don't we use "do" in an interrogative object clause?

Short answer Only the matrix clause in a sentence requires subject-auxiliary inversion to make it interrogative (and not if the wh-word is part of a Subject phrase). In other words, all other things ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Why do we need different auxiliary verbs ("is", "are", "am") for different pronouns?

No why, no purpose; just history First off, you’re mistaken to tie these verb-forms to pronouns rather than to what we call “grammatical persons”. Pronouns are but an ancillary matter that make it ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
4 votes

“What I saw was…” vs “What I saw were…”

When you start with "What", you're referring to an incident or object that you've seen. So it seems more appropriate to use the pair what ... was like you were answering a question What was it that ...
itsols's user avatar
  • 779
4 votes
Accepted

What topicalizing role does "do" play in "Only now do we have what we need to move forward"?

In the sentence Only now do we have what we need to move forward the word do clearly has some emphasizing meaning. Let's clear the mud off the sidewalk first. The final clause is irrelevant, so an ...
John Lawler's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Will vs Would? Can both of them be used for future

Both your sentences are grammatically correct and both have a future meaning: we understand that she hasn't done anything yet and that she is unlikely to do anything in the future. Your other sentence,...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.1k
4 votes
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Is there a term for, and what is the correctness of, splitting a verb with a nonrestrictive clause?

There are several terms, but verb splitting is not among them. Oh, and there's only one clause and it's not non-restrictive. Thankfully, you gave examples. Our main participation will be, as usual, a ...
John Lawler's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

"I'll have take contact you two about the details later"

In Japan, "Take" is a common name [[ Pronunciation : taa kay ]] with current usage. In the Manga Picture, the text is "ALL CAPITALS" ; that is why you got confused. "I'LL ...
Prem's user avatar
  • 4,734
4 votes

Why isn't "I had to" contracted to "I'd to" unlike other auxiliary usage of the verb "had"?

Question: We say "I had to leave," but not "I'd to leave." Why? This is also unlike other auxiliary usage* of the verb "had" (e.g. in past perfect tense), so the ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 15k
3 votes

Are modal verbs and auxiliary verbs actually verbs?

The English modal auxiliary verbs can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, must, and sometimes need and dare are, indeed, defective verbs in that they no longer inflect for anything and ...
John Lawler's user avatar
3 votes

Is "going to" an auxiliary verb?

Once again, piece by piece... Oxford defines an auxiliary verb as a verb used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs This definition is not restricted to English. English does, ...
John Lawler's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

The intransitive "to fail" becomes the adjective "failed"

The past perfect is formed with the auxiliary had to indicate time preceding a fixed point in the past: I had come to that conclusion before you called. Likely you're talking about the present ...
deadrat's user avatar
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3 votes
Accepted

Have you any idea what such a question is deemed?

"Have" as an auxiliary always patterns as an auxiliary ("have you seen", "I haven't seen" etc). "Have" as a full verb can pattern either as an auxiliary ("Have you any?" "I haven't any") or as a ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 77.2k
3 votes
Accepted

What type of word is "must"?

First, note that there must had been a storm is not grammatical in most varieties of English. There must have been a storm is what I think you meant. Secondly, the answer is that must is a modal verb,...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 77.2k
3 votes

Verb Tenses and Auxiliary Verbs

The problem here is that the word tense is defined differently in different resources. In the one you link to tense refers to all possible combinations of time frame (past, present, future) and ...
Shoe's user avatar
  • 33.1k
3 votes
Accepted

has grown vs is grown

It depends on what you want to denote. I will follow that you really want to denote "the number of some-things" and the available options you gave. The correct answer would be (as John ...
Koi Nil's user avatar
  • 86
3 votes

auxiliary do-support: do murder

This is not do-support per-se. This sentence is not interrogative or nugatory in nature, and do is coming after the subject pronoun he, so there is no subject/verb inversion. The reason it is coming ...
Tonepoet's user avatar
  • 4,551

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