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Questions tagged [modal-verbs]

Modal auxiliary verbs are a special type of auxiliary verb, used mainly to express ability, likelihood, permission, and obligation. These include 'will', 'would', 'can', 'could', 'shall', 'should', 'may', 'might', 'must', 'ought', 'need', and 'dare'. Please do not use this tag for the non-modal auxiliaries 'be', 'have', or 'do'.

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Is “should be” talking about the past or the present or the future?

Not sure who’s working but this should be resolved. Does that should be resolved part mean (1) that it has already been resolved in the past, or (2) that he is expecting or needing it to be resolved ...
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The priority of the adverb “at first” and the modal “should” [on hold]

Which one is the correct usage ? We at first should examine all documents We should at first examine all documents I think the second one sounds more correct.
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Does a pronoun (they) after “and” in a compound predicate sentence necessitate a comma before the “and”?

I have a genuine problem. A compound predicate has one subject and two or more verbs. This is the guideline I am following. Compound Predicate takes no comma when there are two verbs: Michael ...
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How should I tell apart “would for past habit” from “would for future in the past”?

During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain's displeasure with continued Danish trade with the French would lead to increasingly aggressive skirmishes at sea. Britain would grow increasingly concerned that ...
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Could this “would” possibly be for attenuation?

To hear her speak, I would think she is from Tokyo. I can't imagine a situation very well when this sentence makes sense. Could it be used like this: A: ~. So my daughter have gotten very much used ...
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You mustn't have done anything vs You must have not done anything (Negative deductions)

Which structure in the second paragraph below is grammatical? I provide the first paragraph to contrast with a familiar but opposite structure. Positive deduction I didn't get the results I ...
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We’ve got plenty of time. We don’t need to/needn’t hurry [duplicate]

Do "don’t need to" and "needn’t" mean the same or not? This is a question from an English test: We’ve got plenty of time. We ... hurry. don’t need to needn’t What's the right answer?
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Third conditional with modals in both sentences - can it look the same?

2nd conditional: I would leave if I could. 3rd conditional: I would have left if I could --the same form of "could" but I would have left if I could have used the car. Is that correct? Is ...
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“could” in the past referring to a single possibility/opportunity

I decided to create another question as this addresses another aspect of the topic I discussed in my related questions. I know that in general, "could" is not used to describe a specific possibility ...
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General past possibility with 'could'

I am a bit confused, as I know I should not use "could"+verb in the sense of a possibility in the past, such as "He could go there yesterday but he did not". I am well aware I should use past modals ...
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Meaning of “our findings could be reproduced” in a scientific paper

From The basis for folinic acid treatment in neuro-psychiatric disorders (Ramaekers et al., 2016): In the latter group of low-functioning autism our studies identified a prevalence of blocking FR ...
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Usage of “Should” With Subjunctive or Without Subjunctive

What is meaning of "should" in these sentences? What are differences from other usages of "should"? It's funny that you should say that. I was going to say the same thing. It's only natural ...
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Could have vs could in an example (single event vs longer time period)

I would like to know whether I get it right: The siblings lived with abusive parents. They could run away anytime if they wanted. Would this be correct if I mean this as their ability over the ...
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I could buy it yesterday, wrong?

I just learned that I should not say: I could buy it yesterday. but rather use “was able” or “could have”. At the same time, I have just seen a sentence: He could help me but he did not. That is ...
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What meaning does “would” hold in the following sentence

They were the last people you would expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense. I know that would is in a relative clause here. What ...
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Can do AND can not do

If I have an option to do, I say: I can do If I don't have an option to do, I say: I can not do But what if I have an option not to do...: I can not do How to distinguish it from "I can ...
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Could / Be able to / Could be able to

I mean, we'd love to leave people pristine so we could be able to study them but it's not ethical. I mean, we'd love to leave people pristine so we are able to study them but it's not ethical. I ...
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Question formation, helping verbs usage

What could have we done? Or What could we have done? Which one is the correct usage. As in an interrogative sentence, helping verbs should come before the subject so I think first structure is ...
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About the usage of modal verb in conditional sentences

Should the UK leave the EU with no agreement in place, economic growth could be stricken harder. Should the UK leave the EU with no agreement in place, economic growth can be stricken harder. ...
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What's the form of the modal “must” in the past or future?

I know that modals normally don't have past form, but sometimes they have an other way or equivalent verb to cope and to express them in past tense or future tense. For example: can becomes could ...
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'May I know…' if 'May I know when this group was established?' sounds natural? May I know other ways to ask this question?

May I know when this group was established? Hello. I learned in a text that we can say 'May I know...?' in formal situations. But an American teacher of English told me it sounded unnatural. He said '...
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“It / may / might/ could be dangerous”

Friend: "I want to go to the jungle." Which answer is should I choose? 1) I: "Be careful. It may be dangerous." 2) I: "Be careful. It might be dangerous." 3) I: "Be careful. It could be ...
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Is “let” a modal?

Must the verb that follow let always be an infinitive regardless of the context, even in a reported speech? For example, He told us to let him saw her one last time. Is that correct?
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Why does the author use “would ask” instead of “asked” in this passage?

I stumbled upon this paragraph. ... the phone felt sticky with sweat against her ear. Her hand seemed glued to the receiver. There were papers spread out on the floor in front of her because she ...
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Can you make Would refer to earlier actions than the main clause's verb do? [closed]

Earlier or at the same time, both would be fine to me. Can you make the title possible? Like this one below. I tried all the tools but the door wouldn't budge In this, the Would refers to the ...
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Which of “Will you just go?” or “Can you just go?” works better?

One of my stu­dents barged into my class­room one day and was get­ting on my nerves be­cause I needed to clean up the mess he had him­self made ear­lier, so I wanted to ask him to leave me alone and ...
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“I suspect he will come” vs. “I suspect he might come”

Which of the 2 sentences is correct ? I suspect that he will come here. I suspect that he might come here. As we have already used*'suspect*, is it wrong to use might again? (as using 2 ...
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How can I convince people that Could is the past form of Can?

Here in Korea, a lot of public educations are not in a great state. People have been educated too simply that the past "Tense" of Can is Could. But they never learned or been told deeply, so they get ...
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“X will do Y” vs. “X does Y”

I have already asked the question “X won't Y” (able/willing) vs. “X doesn't Y”, and now I want to extend the question to further meanings/usages of will (according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's ...
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“X won't Y” (able/willing) vs. “X doesn't Y”

In the preschooler series "Peppa Pig" I met the following two sentences: George runs as fast as he can but the kite won't fly. Peppa runs as fast as she can but the kite still won't fly. I ...
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modal choice: will or would?

Is "would" correct in the following? If so, how does it differ from "will"? The mayor has decided to build an amusement park because it would / will attract many tourists. I'd appreciate your help....
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Could attend vs. can attend

I'm reading tips and tricks for an exam I'm going to take I and saw the following paragraph: Be careful with “should vs. could”: e.g the sentence “Product Owner could attend the Daily Scrum” is ...
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Usage of Would in Politer Way

Now I'm writing my review of a product, and I'm not sure if I use would, it sounds politer. I've just used the speaker, but I wouldn't say it's the best. If I use “would” here like the above, ...
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“You can be able to…”. vs. “You would/should be able to…”

On many online articles/posts, I've seen writer using the sentence "You can be able to...". Is it because the writer is non-English speaker or that use is grammatically correct? An example would be ...
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“Will” vs “would” for describing something in future

Do will and would both sound right in the given context as an English speaker to you? Communism is an ideological and a socialpolitical movement. Its aim is to set up a communist society. This ...
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Passive infinitive + verb third form

Which kind of stretchers is it. Passive infinitive + verb third form. As it is written here (may have been decimated). May have been is passive infinitive and decimated is verb third form.
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“I wouldn't have said anything”

In Desperate Housewives Season 1 Episode 1, Julie (the daughter) told Susan (the mother) to ask Mike out. Susan said she didn't know if she's ready to start dating. SUSAN: I don't wanna talk to you ...
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Meanings of must have had [closed]

I have to analyse these two sentences: He must have had a business meeting the next morning. He must have had a lot of money because the furniture looked expensive. The verb “must have had” ...
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“I don't think he will leave” vs. “I don't think he would leave”

What is the difference between will and would in the following context? John: Hey Subha, did you know Lionel Messi has got a huge offer from PSG to join them? What do you think about the ...
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Use of “will” in parallel clauses with two subjects following the word “when”

I was wondering if the word "will" needs to be repeated in two dependent clauses with two distinct subjects in the future tense. For example: "There will come a day when wars will cease and peace ...
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Can vs. Will be able to

We use can to talk about future actions which we will be able to do because of present ability, present circumstances, present decisions etc. • She can win the race tomorrow if she tries really ...
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Should I take a look to see if there are?

Should I take a look to see if there are the people who raise dogs ? Q: In the above sentence, can I replace "should" with "would"? thanks in advance!
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Can We Use Modal Verbs Could / would for future events?

Can We Use Modal Verbs for future events? My examples are as follows, Could: Can you tell me how could we recover this amount from him in the next month? Would: Can you tell me would it be ...
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I 'shall/would' be highly obliged if you 'would'

What the difference between two bold sentences is? I am sorry to state that I applied for a new telephone on 05.02.2016. Though more than two years have passed since the application, I have not ...
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May not only take… but also it MAY

In this inversion sentence, do I have to use "may" in the relative clause again? (Assuming you are not sure, that's why you are including "may" in your sentence) "Robbery may not only take ...
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Is there any case you can't switch Could with 'Was able to'?

For the simple past (and also positive) Could, would there possibly be any sentence that you just can't simply replace Could with Was able to or Managed to?
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What does “should” mean in “I should get my assignment finished…”?

I should get my assignment finished this weekend if I have enough time. The modal verb should has at least 7 meanings according to the Cambridge Dictionary. What does should mean in the quoted ...
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would be/ was/ were - differences [duplicate]

1.Around midnight, as we left the previous year behind and moved into the new year, my mom would be busy cooking for the guests. I didn't like crowds so I stayed in the living room watching the telly. ...
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I mean who else it could be?

A: Mmm, these flowers are gorgeous, aren't they? B: I'm afraid to read the card A: Oh! Don't sweat it! They are for me! They are from a secret admirer. A: No! B: Yes! A: Who ...
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How would mom have handled this

Father: Can't you just try sharing a room with your sister? Your mom was always so good at this stuff. I'd come home from work and everything was always perfect. How would mom have handled this? ...