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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When we use “would” to express uncertainty, do we use past tense in the noun clause?

I came across the use of would for expressing uncertainty. (Article: https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modal-would.htm) Examples from the article: would for uncertainty (1) He would seem to ...
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He said he would have helped us if we’d needed a volunteer (original statement: ‘I’ll help you if you need a volunteer’)

Some, but not all, modal verbs ‘shift back’ in time and change in indirect speech. We can use a perfect form with have + -ed after modal verbs, especially where the report looks back to a hypothetical ...
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Verb usage with always

Consider the following two sentences: John always play football. John always plays football. Which of the above two sentences are correct? The first sentence seems right to me since there are too ...
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modal verbs in context

only you could make it better. What's the meaning of this sentence? Since there is "could", does it mean that the "you" is the only person able to do it (make it better) ? and is ...
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I can ride that bike; Robbing a bank/banks can/could get him into trouble

Anyone/he/I can ride a bike. (we are talking about any bike in general) Person A: Can you solve this problem? Person B: Well it looks tough to me, but I can. (the speaker thinks they can solve it) ...
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28 views

I could swim, I could drive a car,

Person A: What are you skills? Person B: I can swim, I can drive a car,... We list them using "can". But can we do the same using "could"? Person B: I could swim, I could drive a ...
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34 views

Anyone could/might get very nasty skin disease

Consider these sentences: Anyone could/might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water. John could/might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water. I could/might get ...
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“Would you have a resume I can refer to?” or “Do you have a resume I can refer to?” [duplicate]

"Would you have a resume I can refer to?" or "Do you have a resume I can refer to?" I want to ask someone for their resume, but I'm confused between would and do? Which one is ...
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“Your working in London next summer might be a great experience”

I know I can use these modal verbs when talking to a specific person, but I am wondering if I can use all these three modal verbs with a generic subject "you" or "people". Working ...
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Will _ would and Can_Could differences

I read the below article in "The Hindu" newspaper: The state government has imposed restrictions on gatherings with immediate effect. Only 50 persons would be allowed at gatherings. The ...
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would be nothing vs wouldn’t be anything

I wonder if you could explain me why the second version isn't used, only the first one. Ngram As I understand, there is no grammatical mistake in the second sentence, isn't it? I’m sure there would ...
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Yes, I would like (to)

Are both answers to the question "Would you like...?" correct or there is must be "to" in the answer? Yes, I would like. Yes, I would like to.
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Sometimes bus service may/might be cancelled on the route

Sometimes bus service may/might be cancelled on the route. Without any more context, does it refer to the present? a) It is possible that sometimes bus service is cancelled on the route. (maybe ...
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“Can”: meaning in general and particular contexts

Suppose my friend John is going to cycle in the city. Before he leaves the house, I say this to him to warn him against cycling in the city: It can be dangerous to cycle in the city if you don't stay ...
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“I wondered how I would get past should I meet someone coming down”

The staircase was so narrow, I wondered how I would get past should I meet someone coming down? I like to know what "should" means in this sentence. And what grammar is that?
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My French is not of the quality it might/would be if I lived in France

My French is not of the quality it might/would be if I lived in France. Is this sentence correct? Also do we say: My French is not of a certain quality. Or My French is not a certain quality.
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42 views

A bicycle can/could/may be defined as a two-wheeled vehicle

Consider these sentences, please: A bicycle can be defined as a two-wheeled vehicle propelled by human energy. A bicycle is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle propelled by human energy. Q1) Does the &...
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516 views

a short answer on a question “Could you wait for a moment?”

Is it right that on a question: "Could you wait for a moment, please?" I can't say: "I could", only "I can" because "could" in my answer will be about the past. ...
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“Can be originated” vs “can originate”

While writing the thesis, google docs proposed me to use "can originate" instead of "can be originated". Seriously, is there any difference? I am not a native speaker, that's why I ...
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I needn't have done for an action that wasn't done

Would it be wrong (in BrE) to say that when something was done but it wasn't necessary only "needn't have done" is used but it is not used for an action that wasn't done? For example, "...
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Is it a must to not use the phrase must to in order to not must to? [closed]

Is it a must to not use the phrase must to in order to not must to? In my country, Spain similar I think, the most common mistake is saying "I must to do this." Because there's one word for ...
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You could be doing something really meaningful

Michael and Ryan, like so many other veterans, sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, declined to speak to me, but the most common view ...
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Would be Vs Will be

With India administering 30_40 lakh doses dialy, this suggests that existing stocks would be available for 10_13 days, though there is a considerable variation within the states in the number of doses ...
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I can/could, but what's in it for me?

Person A: Can you help me with my homework?​ Person B: I can, but what's in it for me? Or Person B: I could, but what's in it for me? Does any one of them suggest that the person is not really willing ...
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I would, but I have an important meeting

Can we use "would" in the sense of but I/we/he won't? For example: Person A: Can you come with me for shopping this evening? Person B: I would, but I have an important meeting to attend. (...
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Which word is modified by the adv 'just'?

Can I just say a word? You can just say a word. Does just modify say in first sentence ? Does just modify can in second sentence ? If so, The question and response is not corresponding how do I ...
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40 views

Conditionals where consequences take place before conditions

How do I express the thought that the occurrence of some event results in the occurrence of another before it.. in other words, that if an event were to happen, some other event would happen before it?...
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Is “would” incompatible with “I'm not sure”?

Is "would" incompatible with "I'm not sure"? If so, do you know why? A: Where's John now? B: I'm not sure. He would be at home now. A: When will John come back? B: I'm not sure....
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that will be / would be the postman

If I hear someone ring the doorbell and suspect it is the postman, should I say "That would be the postman" or "That will be the postman"? If both are okay, what is the difference?
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would or will indicating uncertainty

I'm wondering if "would" is used properly in the following, or "will" should be used instead. A: Where's John now? B: I don't know for certain. He would be at home now. A: When ...
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Verbs in time clauses and 'if' clauses

On this page, https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/verbs-in-time-clauses-and-if-clauses, there is a section called "Making hypotheses" It says: some conditional ...
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47 views

It could/can/might be that

A scientist speculates on a particular matter, saying: It could be that the first living organisms evolved independently in different places—we just don't know. Can I replace the "could" ...
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Using “but” with modals

Friend: John, can you come to the party tonight? John: Sorry, no. I could come, but my mum is very ill and I have to take care of her. John: Sorry, no. I could've come, but my mum is very ill and I ...
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difference: should sleep or should be sleeping [duplicate]

In the following sentence, are both "sleep" and "be sleeping" correct? If so, what's the difference? When can I leave? I should sleep / should be sleeping at home now.
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Which is right about a text on life 2000 years ago:“The house must have had a cosy roof of turf.” or “It would have a cosy …” or “It had a cosy…” [duplicate]

I have seen this sentence in an article on bbc, which is about how people lived thousands of years ago. "When this Neolithic home was built, it would have had a cosy roof of turf.." When I ...
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“must not be” or “must not have been”? [duplicate]

I'm wondering "must not be" or "must not have been" should be used in the following: This defamatory letter must not have been written by John / must not be written by John. He's ...
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40 views

“WOULD” in the same clause as “IF”

I heard this sentence and I thought if it was possible that 'would" could be in the same clause as 'if', I mean I've read that it's possible if 'would' conveys "willingness?" But in ...
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Will or would choice [duplicate]

This is a real situation, but why does the writes use "would" in this sentence instead of "will"? The games is still on. 83 mins: A second goal for United in these closing stages ...
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Use of would and conditional

I'm just wondering whether would means possible in the following sentences? It's ambiguous on what it's used to talk about an unreal situation or to make suggestions sound less definite. I'm confused ...
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30 views

Use of “would” in sentence

What does "would" mean in the following sentences? That picture would look better on the other wall. It would be nice to see more of Ray and Barbara. Six o'clock would be a good time to ...
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Use of simple present tense

I am reading the book An Introduction to Formal Logic by Peter Smith. I was checking the following argument (Exercise-1 Question no-15) : Miracles cannot happen. Why? Because, by definition, a ...
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How does “would” work

How does "would" work in this sentence? A: Is it "may I know who you are ?" or "may I know who are you?"? Thanks! B: The first one is correct. 'May I know who are you?' ...
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or we will/would .

I'm wondering whether "will" or "would" should be used in the following, and why: Our water has frozen. We should heat it, or we will/would have nothing to drink. When we go ...
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Can we use “must have been Ving” to guess things that started from a point of time in the past and have continuously progressed to now?

You see your friend rather chubbier than the last time you met him. You guess that he started eating pizza a few months ago and kept doing that until now. Is it correct to say "he must have been ...
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They might/could be considered New Year’s resolutions [duplicate]

As I went through my financial and travel records for 2007, I realized that as usual I had made a great many mistakes. I’d like to help you to avoid making the same mistakes, so here they are. They ...
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Differences between “might” and “might have” in a reported speech

(1) She told me John might contact the manager. (2) She told me John might have contacted the manager. The difference is that the action of contacting the manager happened at different times, ...
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Difference between might not and may not

I understood that "might" represents a weaker possibility and "may" represents a stronger possibility. But I can't understand when I have to use "may not" and "might ...
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What does “would” mean

What does "would" mean here? In the context you provided, I would say X. I would say X in this situation.
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must be or would be?

Here's a reading test that I did the other day: Dear Mr. Prosser, The information that you requested about changes to the hunting permit scheme has been enclosed. Please note that each permit must be ...
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“may” vs “can” difference [duplicate]

I’ll finish the work in the next few days. You can pay me then. Although you can visit these places, you’re welcome to stay in the hotel if you are tired. You can buy a ticket from the Tourist ...

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