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What is a concise and grammatical way to cancel a helper verb? For example, if I wish to say that someone isn't obligated to do something, I could say, for example, "He doesn't should go, he could go," but this doesn't sound right. I see this present in "'Can't' never could" and "He doesn't have to," but the former is intentionally solecistic and the latter seems different because of the way it implies an infinitive.

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    What's wrong with saying (as you did) that he isn't obligated to go? – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 15 '18 at 18:27
  • @JasonBassford: It is for the rhetorical effect of negating their choice of modal verb. – user55678 Aug 15 '18 at 19:58
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"Doesn't should go" is not standard English, thought it may come up in a dialect that I don't know of. (If so, I'd be interested to know.)

If I've understood your question properly, you want to get rid of 'doesn't' or 'should' and have a sentence with a main verb and auxilary verb which means 'he doesn't have to go'.

In standard English 'he doesn't go' ('does' used as a helper verb) or 'he shouldn't go' (should is the helper verb) would both be correct, but not mean what you want.

He need not go or he needn't go might be what you want. Need behaves here as a modal auxiliary.

Here a definition and more examples from collins dictionary:

Need
5. modal verb
If you tell someone that they needn't do something, or that something needn't happen, you are telling them that that thing is not necessary, in order to make them feel better.
You needn't worry.
This needn't take long, Simon.
Buying budget-priced furniture needn't mean compromising on quality or style.
Loneliness can be horrible, but it need not remain that way.
He need never drink again if he doesn't want to.

  • Or, He doesn't need to go – James Random Aug 15 '18 at 19:46
  • Yes. For some reason I assumed he wanted an auxilliary verb and no to-infinitve (he didn't want 'doesn't have to go'), but I could be wrong there. – S Conroy Aug 16 '18 at 0:19
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I'm assuming that you're asking about how to contradict a "should" sentence by using the word "should" again, like this:

Person 1: "Daniel should go to the conference."
Person 2: (ungrammatical) "No, he doesn't should go, but he could go."

Unfortunately, there's no way to actually negate the word "should" and get the correct meaning out of it. You have to introduce an additional clause at the beginning and negate that instead:

Person 1: "Daniel should go to the conference."
Person 2: "No, I don't think he should go, but he could go."
(or:) Person 2: "No, I disagree that he should go, but he could go."
(or:) Person 2: "No, it's not true that he should go, but he could go."

  • "I'm assuming that you're asking." Why does every question I ask on SE highlight my textual inarticulateness? Is it because I've only asked about five or six? – user55678 Aug 15 '18 at 19:59

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