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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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Being taller can/could make him more attractive - Which is appropriate?

Example 1 ‎ Being tallercan/could make him more attractive to women. But that's impossibility for him because he's an adult. It is impossible for him to grow taller at this point so I wonder whether ...
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Used to and would and time expressions

When I was a kid I would run a lot When I was there I would study a lot When I travelled I used to sleep a lot For 10 years, I would/might/could do it I used to/might/could play tennis for 15 ...
Dary's user avatar
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How "used to" is really used

Modals "could, would, might" can be used with "be" + the continuous form of a verb referring to ongoing past actions. Back in the days before TV, the entire family could | would | ...
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Might used with number of attempts

"In the past he might do that 3 times" Is this sentence correct or because "might" in the past means that somebody did something sometimes I need to wirte "In the past he ...
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"We might play" vs "we might be playing"

In the past, when she came to visit me we might play games together This sentence means that when came to visit me we sometimes played lets say board games. In the past, when she came to visit me we ...
Adam's user avatar
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Any loss or suffered as a result of _____________ Action while in the company’s employment [closed]

Complete the sentences with the following words
Katie Lindov's user avatar
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Using modal verbs

I will do my best to make this question as good as it is only possible this time. 1 He could have said hello to him when they met 2 He could say hello to him when they met I want to convey the meaning ...
Adam's user avatar
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"could live" vs "could have lived"

He could have lived there for two years This sentence is correct it means that it was possible that he lived there in the past but we can't be sure if it really happened. What if I change it a little?...
Adam's user avatar
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Modals verbs actions in the past

In the past, she might/could/would play the piano many times 1 would- shows something habitual. Something what was really repeated many times. Might- would sound more formal and shows less certanity ...
Adam's user avatar
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Modals verbs in the past specific instances

"When my car broke down I thought she could help us." To me that sentence is wrong. We don't use "could" with specific instances in the past. Thus, we have to have change "...
Adam's user avatar
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Might in the past

What is the difference between these sentences? 1 In the past I would eat a lot of appples 2 In the past I I might eat a lot of apples 1 is a repeated action I ate many apples often in the past. How ...
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Can 'can' be used as a main verb?

One of my pupils wrote "Having a skill means to CAN something ...". This explanation would work perfectly well grammatically in German if you translate it literally. Can you use this modal ...
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Reported speech modal verbs

"You needn't come tomorrow" He said she neeedn't or wouldn't have to come the next day" In other words. Do we have to change "needn't" in reported speech or we can leave it ...
Adam's user avatar
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"I'll not be held accountable for what I do with them!"

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part II Cambridge Choir, chapter 19) (Evelyn, William's mum, speaking) Then she pulled out of his embrace. 'I'll try harder, but I'll tell you this: if ...
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“It couldn't / can't have happened if you had done it…”

It couldn't have happened It can't have happened Both sentences are correct, idiomatic and mean the same thing. What if I make the conditional with them? It couldn't (or) can't have happened if you ...
Adam's user avatar
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I am capable of accessing trains easily because I live close to a train station. - does this indicate an ability still?

Do "capable" and "able to" always refer to physical or intelligence abilities? To me, they can also indicate opportunities, permission and other conditions that make whatever you ...
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I am happy I could/was able to help you. - which one?

Example 1 I am happy I could help you. I remember "could" is used to talk about general ability in the past. So, why is it being used here? Is it because it is in a subordinate clause? I ...
vincentlin's user avatar
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Need or needs with bare infinitive

He need worry about the weather today. He needs worry about the weather today. Mostly we see the use of 'need' as modal verb in negative or interrogative sentences where it takes bare infinitive ...
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Meaning of 'would' in this context

This is a piece of an article that I came across while reading a newspaper. 'Would' has been used many times with different meanings in this article. And I am having difficulty in decoding the ...
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Confusion on temporal COULD

In the sentence, "Diplomats said a Russian chemical weapons attack in Ukraine, or a heavy bombardment of the capital Kyiv, could be a trigger for an energy embargo," I am confused whether ...
Ken's user avatar
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Could for ability

I can repair it today He said that he could repair it that day Can you explain why we change "can" to "could" since as far as I'm concerned "could" is only used for ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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What is the meaning of "could"

Look at these, please 1 I thought I might go When it comes to 1 we use "future in the past". I means that it was possible that I would go later 2 I thought I could go later Does 2 express at ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Modals verbs used to show permission

You may ask questions later. You could ask questions later. #1 gives permission. What about #2? It shows a certain degree of likelihood and nothing more? Does "could" only show permission ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Modals in use might may

1 Do we use may in questions about possibility? For example He may be right. Can I ask May he be right Or it doesn't sound natural and it's better to use other modals? 2 "Might you do that?" ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Modal verbs can't vs couldn't

Does "can't and couldn't" mean the same thing in the present tense. Let me give examples 1 I can't help you tomorrow 2 I couldn't help you tomorrow 3 It can't be the truth 4 It couldn't be ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Modals verbs. How to use "can"

I was taught that when we talk about possibility "can" is only for general one and "might,may, could" for specific one. Although, in my book I found these examples " Who can ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Criticism with modals

My teacher says that we don't use "can't have" and "couldn't have" to critize people. What do you think for example these two examples in my opinion show critisizm You couldn't ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Why is "could had" incorrect and "could have" correct?

I have recently realised that I have been wrongly using "could had" instead of "could have" It just seems like a popularly accepted fact that "could" cannot be used with ...
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what is the Difference between using "could not" and "might not" in 3rd conditional sentences?

If I had missed the train, we might not have met. If I had missed the train, we could not have met. Is there any difference between these sentences?
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Difference between can and could when talking about possibility

He couldn't be a doctor, he is not wearing a white coat. I would like to know in this sentence, could we use can't instead of couldn't? and what is the difference?
BOLA123's user avatar
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“Can I not read it”?

If a person is asking about permission not to read something, he doesn't want to read it and asks not to read it. Can we use the phrase “Can I not read it”? Is it correct?
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How do we use can in questions

One person here explained difference to between can and could "Could indicates that something is possible, but not certain. Can is used in general statements about what is possible. So, you may ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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Modals in use "can"

It can rain tomorrow. This is wrong because we don't use "can" for specific possibilities. Although I was told that in questions "can" is fine with specific possibility, for ...
train bee 282's user avatar
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does would in this sentence refer to a past habitual action? ..... if not, what does it mean then?

State governments fund and conduct primary elections much as they would any election.
BOLA123's user avatar
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The river....with aluminum and other things [closed]

The river....with aluminum and other things. A) have been polluted B)has polluted C)may be polluted D)polluted
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1 answer
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Should it be "....could marry..." or "....could have married...? --- If you didn't like me when you met me, how the hell could you marry me?

Imagine a husband says to his wife -after years of marriage- that he didn't like her all along ever since when they first met. So, the wife gets shocked and wants to ask how he married her. So, the ...
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should do/should have done in the indirect speech

Look! The car's broken down again! I told you we ____ it before we left! 1 should have checked 2 should check I think that both are correct. What's the difference?
user1425's user avatar
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What does "can" mean in "The best we can expect"?

What does “can” mean here? “The best we can expect from our allies is the supply of food and ammo.” Does it mean the ability to expect something? Is it implying that other things (e.g direct ...
Chien Te Lu's user avatar
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4 answers
232 views

The past form of "must"

I am quite puzzled over this usage of the word "must": "Members of his team said that he must forget everything he knew about swimming" (This sentence is taken from English ...
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It's beautiful! You ................ given me a nicer present. (Wouldn't have - couldn't have ) choose the right one

I feel confused about the choices. I think you wouldn't have given me is the right one as if it it the nicest present you've ever given me. Others say it's couldn't have given is right as an ...
Azza Yousef Assal's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
85 views

Cancer patient says "I haven't got to be bored." --- Does it mean "I mustn't be bored"?

This sentence is from a program about how various cancer patients have been feeling since their diagnosis: "I haven't got to be bored." Cancer patients (see:43:40-43:44) I think she means ...
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Modal verbs to talk about necessity

I learn English grammar using a textbook. Now I'm learning how to talk about necessity. In the textbook there is a part about obligation; how to use 'must' and 'have to' to express obligation. Then ...
Artem Malyshev's user avatar
3 votes
4 answers
243 views

If we must take the train to the place, we will have to wake up early that day. - "Should" in if-clause to mean "have to"?

Example 1 If we have to take the train to the place, we will have to wake up early that day. Example 2 If we must take the train to the place, we will have to wake up early that day. Example 3 If ...
vincentlin's user avatar
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Past tense of "cannot have p.p."

I will be a king. "Will" becomes "would" in subordinate clauses of past tense verbs. I thought I would be a king. Then, does "can't have p.p." become "couldn't have ...
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I will decide whether I (will) approach him at the food court or not. - differences in meaning?

Example 1 I will decide whether I approach him at the food court or not. Example 2 I will decide whether I will approach him at the food court or not. What are the differences in meaning? Does ...
vincentlin's user avatar
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2 votes
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How to choose between "can" and "might" in "The service {can/might} be surly"

I'm learning modal verbs now using a grammar textbook. There are different topics. One of them is a topic about possibility. I went through the rules part and now I'm doing exercises after it where ...
Artem Malyshev's user avatar
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Are these grammar rules from a grammar book good to learn how to talk about possibility?

I study English grammar. I use a grammar book for it. Now I'm learning modal verbs and the possibility topic is difficult and confusing for me. Here is the screenshot from the textbook: I'm not ...
Artem Malyshev's user avatar
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Specific and general possibility in the future

I study English grammar using a grammar book. There is a unit about modal verbs. The unit includes seven topics. Three of them are the most difficult for me. They are about ability, possibility and ...
Artem Malyshev's user avatar
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Use of 'would have' to refer to What was very likely in the past

We can use 'would' to refer to 'what is very likely. We use it to show probability. These are some examples that I took from some dictionaries: He would be a teacher. The guy on the phone had a ...
RADS's user avatar
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that she might have said that

a. I'm surprised that June did that. b. I'm surprised that June might have done that. Is there a difference between the meanings of (a) and (b)? I think (b) implies that the speaker hardly believes ...
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