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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25 views

When you go Or When you would go

I have read this: I am moving tomorrow and the old black lady that lives next to me just said “ I am going to miss you. I used to stay up every night when you would go out with your friends and ...
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Can vs Will be able to

I ran across a ques­tion in a gram­mar test that was ask­ing for a par­tic­u­lar sen­tence, and sup­pos­edly the re­quired an­swer is the first sen­tence given be­low, but not the sec­ond one, which ...
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3answers
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I wasn't able to do it/I couldn't do it (solve a problem)

I was trying to solve a physics problem, but it was a bit too difficult. What sounds natural: I wasn't able to do this question. (Or "solve") [Or maybe: "I was unable to do this question"] I ...
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What kind of movie would you all like to watch? ---CORRECT?

I'm not sure about the following sentence-constructions: What kind of movie would you all like to watch? What kind of movie you all would like to watch? Which one is correct (and idiomatic)?
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Using modal verb “could” as an independent

"Dan was so successful at school, he made it, he could." Can the modal verb "could" be used as in the above example, as a standalone without a verb following it? "Dan was so successful at school, he ...
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An error can/may occur

Let's say we are talking about some software application: The input data are invalid, so an error can occur The input data are invalid, so an error may occur The input data are invalid, ...
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You would enjoy it vs. You will enjoy it

You should go and see the movie. You ___________ (enjoy) it. The answer is "would enjoy". I wonder if "will enjoy" can also be an answer. If so, what is the difference between the two - "You will ...
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Had to have happened or Must have happened

I wonder what is the difference here: It had to have happened today. It must have happened today. To me the meaning is the same.
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3answers
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“can not show up” v. “can not to show up”

You don't get that choice. Yeah, you can not show up, and you might have a flexible work environment, but there's still the social pressure of, 'My desk is sitting empty while everybody else's in the ...
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A question regarding the verb — would like+ to-infinitive

I appreciate if someone can help me in clarifying my doubt. I(subj) + would (modal verb)+ like(verb) + to eat (main verb (to-infinitive))+ rice (obj) Are the classes correct? Thanks!
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A question regarding sentence construction

Is my understanding of the following sentence construction correct? 1) I will be feeling tired Noun (I) + modal verb (will) + verb (be) + linking verb (feeling) + adjective (tired) I doubt that ...
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“But the idea that someone might be arming the Seam would never have been allowed” — why “would have”?

From The Hunger Games: My bow is a rarity, crafted by my father along with a few others that I keep well hidden in the woods, carefully wrapped in waterproof covers. My father could have made good ...
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Question about the tense of “until …” in a object clause

Quite confused about it. Here is a sentence: I was wondering if you could lend me a few dollars until I get paid on Friday. Why is got or would get improper here? Compared with: I said I would go ...
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“could possibly do something” vs “could do something”

Tell me please what the difference is between the following sentences. He could possibly win the game. He could win the game. What is the role of possibly in the sebtence? What does that adds ...
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“How could someone do something?” vs “How could someone have done something?”

Tell me please what is the difference between the following sentence. How could he steal the money? He had always been so law-abiding. How could he have stolen the money? He had always been so ...
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“I can see someone ” vs “I see someone”

As this dictionary says can is used with the verbs see, hear, feel, taste, and smell, and with verbs connected with thinking, to mean that someone sees something, hears something etc. For exapmple: ...
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Usage of verb Would

I am wondering why is "would" used In this sentence. When she was younger she 'would' shrink away from me whenever I spoke to her. Is using simple past without "would" grammatically wrong, or does ...
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what is the difference “might be able to” and “might have to”?

Tell me about your problem. I might be able to help you. I'm not free this evening, but I might be able to meet you tomorrow. I don't know f I'll be free on Sunday. I might have to work. I can come to ...
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4answers
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'Will' instead of 'Would' with a past tense sentence

I've bumped into a YouTube clip (Here is the extracted text for the sake of convenience and context) that deals with the difference between 'Will' and 'Would'. Among other examples, they have chosen ...
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Does “would have submitted” (modal and past participle) have any sense of perfect aspect?

I've always thought like that 'have' between a modal and a past participle is nothing but a grammatical method of indicating the past tense of modal. But recently I saw a video saying that in the ...
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1answer
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Modals.Are their job is only to add possibility or hypothetical?

The children 'must have been playing' in the park since we gone shopping please find them out it's getting dark. Just look at that car ! His father 'must have bought' it for him because he has been ...
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About the use of “would” in this context

The text below is a comment that I've excerpted from the comment section of a newspaper article: Not too surprising. Mohammed bin Zayed is doing to the US what empires have done for thousands of ...
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Use of “could” or “can” when referring to an observed past ability

After a concert: We are astonished until now. Did you hear the notes that girl could/can reach? Which one should I use: "could reach" or "can reach"? Or are both correct for this kind of question?...
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Can “would be able to” be rephrased as “could” every time?

I think 'could' has a lot more meanings than 'would be able to' does. But is it possible that one can consider that all the usages of 'would be able to' can be rephrased as just 'could'? In other ...
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Can we use be without modal?

We use this sentence 'he should be here'. Can we say he be here? Without modal?
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Modal +have+past participal can work as present perfect?

Can we use modal+have+past participal for a current events like we use present perfect for present moment. Which one is correct? Just see that car, his father must have bought it for him. Just see ...
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Should do vs should have to do

Do they both have the same meaning? You should do that. You should have to do that.
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Can we use the format “must be happened”?

Can we use these sentences like 1. Solar eclipse 'must be happened' today. 2. If that happens then it 'must be occurred' at east. Are they correct ones 'must be happened' and 'must be occurred'? Or ...
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Is saying “couldn't have” here incorrect?

This is the original sentence: According to the police, it’s impossible that the prisoner escaped without help from the outside. This is the transformation that's given as correct: The police ...
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1answer
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When he married, he {could / was able to} go to Europe

I'm not a native-speaker, so sometimes modal verbs are tricky for me. Could is a modal verb that expresses general ability in the past tense. 'Was able to' is not a modal verb, and we can use 'was ...
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2answers
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Which one is correct: 'may' or 'could' in the following sentences?

Modal verbs may be easy for native-speakers but for me (not native) choosing the right modal verb makes me crazy! My family {may/could} go camping this weekend, depending on the weather. You {...
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“If it should” vs “If it does” vs “Should it”

What is the difference between: 1) If my car should break down, please, call the mechanic. 2) If my car breaks down, please, call the mechanic. 3) Should my car break down, please, call ...
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In an ideal world, everybody has/(would have) enough to eat

I'm doing an exercise and I have the following sentence under "would" unit: In an ideal world, everybody (have) enough to eat. It's obvious, that I should put would have have here but the question ...
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The last thing I'll do is run

I stumbled across the sentence below ‘The last thing I'll do is run’ and I wonder why the verb run isn't used in an ‘- ing’ form. As far as I know after the verb ‘is’, a noun should be following. ...
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conditional vs subjunctive: “it would mean they (were / would be)”

I have a hard time convincing someone that the correct verb to use in the following sentence is the conditional "would be" rather than the subjunctive "were": One interviewee expressed hope that ...
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How I'll know when to use “need” like modal like here “you never need attend to that thing again”?

Quote: Walden or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, 1850. To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. Yet not a few are ...
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Is 'could V' always present or future?

When there's no other verb which indicates the tense in a sentence like I could eat it. , not like I did all I could. , then does the could-phrase always have present or future tense? In ...
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Is it correct that we use “be” instead of “do” after “would”?

for example in the following sentence she can not do any useful thing. She wouldn’t be any help, would she? Is it true that we can not use "do" after "would"?
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“I would rather” construction

Could anyone just explain if the phrase " I’d rather you pretend I didn’t say it" is grammarically correct? I thought, it should be "pretended" instead of "pretend" there, but, anyway, I heard that ...
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2answers
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Can/will vs could/would in IF clause

I have a question about can vs could in the IF clause. If you could contact us directly, it would be helpful. If you can contact us directly, it will be helpful. Which one do you think is ...
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1answer
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Which of these sentences is right?

According to Murphy's English Grammar in Use you can use "have to" in all forms, and he offers an example in the past simple and another one in the present perfect tense. Hence, I was wondering if had ...
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4answers
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“He ought to love her forever” or “He oughts to love her forever”

Can anyone explain to me? But I found that most of the sentences use 'he ought'.
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What is the reason to use “should be” instead of “is” here?

I read a sentence as below Now, these results are not quite as bad as they sound. Although such adversarial examples are common, they're also unlikely in practice. Nonetheless, it is distressing ...
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guess or subjunctive mood?

In this quotation: Theseus was a great hero to the people of Athens. When he returned home after a war, the ship that had carried him and his men was so treasured that the townspeople preserved it ...
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2answers
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Does “I shouldn't have let you do it.” “shouldn't have + past participle” or “shouldn't + present perfect”

In the movie "Frame", 1947, Glen Ford, in one dialog there is: "I shouldn't have let you do it." Does "I shouldn't have let you do it." grammatically means: A) shouldn't have + past participle or B) ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “He may not come today”?

I suppose that He may not come today means that he is not allowed to come today. Right? But what is the right way to say that he is allowed not to come today? He may not to come today Is that ...
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Indirect questions with passive voice: “Could you tell me what time…”

There is the questions What time is breakfast served? how should I create an indirect question? Could you tell me what time breakfast served? or probably Could you tell me what time ...
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1answer
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“be quiet so that we could start the lesson” – why “could” and not “can”?

The teacher said Stop talking and be quiet so that we could start the lesson. Could you tell me why did the teacher use could. Any answer will be appreciated.
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1answer
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Correct way to answer a question containing “must”

What's the right way to answer a question in English, in which the "actors" must do something? For example, Who must choose their own club here? If it's two people - Bob and Billy - who must ...
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Yesterday I could do that but today I cannot

When speaking about the past, I know that "could" cannot be used for single events (Yesterday I could go there but I did not). However, what if we talk about an ability that ceased to exist? Is the ...