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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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“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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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 ...
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“…anyone who should suggest…” — does “should” differ from “would”?

The following piece is from 1984: For the moment he had shut his ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had even been ...
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Difference between 'will have done' and 'must have done'?

Here is an example: "What is particularly interesting is that despite being heavily based upon the CPR, the Court Rules do not incorporate the costs management additions to CPR 3 that were ...
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I will try the Thursday class, if this will/would work

Let's say you wanted to try a class online, but you have got a tight schedule and you doubt that it might work. You say it correctly by: I will try the Thursday cooking class, if this will improve ...
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“I expect he will know” vs. “I expect he knows”

I understand that will can be used to refer to the likelihood of a future event, for example: I expect (that) she won't like the news Source: Merriam-Websters Advanced Learners English Dictionary ...
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Can vs May (Which one is correct?)

Which modal verb do I use in the first blank? I know that “may” is for asking permission, but “can” is for showing capability. So throwing a peel is somewhat a capability. Some people can/may ...
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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” [closed]

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 ...