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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22
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3answers
2k views

In-depth explanation of the difference between “will” and “going to”?

Background My wife and I take English classes provided by our companies, so we have different teachers. So now it happened that we had the same topic: future. Both teachers are native English speakers,...
33
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4answers
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What is the difference between can and could in 'Can/could you please explain this to me?'

Can you please explain this to me? Could you please explain this to me? I am unable to figure out which to use which situation. I did google, and some posts say they are both the same, even if ...
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2answers
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Difference between “if + present, will + infinitive” and “if + present, would + infinitive”

What is the difference between the following two sentences. I will be surprised if he confesses. I would be surprised if he confesses. I know that the first is often referred to as first conditional....
6
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1answer
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Correct usage of will and would

Consider the following sentence It will/would rain tomorrow. I understand "would" usually means something that is really improbable. So "it would happen" means it might happen but it is very ...
13
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5answers
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Tense agreement in the past irrealis conditionals

The following is taken from PEU1 123.5: Could have + past participle can refer to present situations which were possible but have not been realised. He could have been Prime Minister now ...
4
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1answer
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Might / May / Could / Would have been able to

Are they always interchangeable or subtle meaning differences occurred when we prefered one to another? Here some sentences I came across. Can we rewrite these sentences with keeping their meanings? ...
8
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3answers
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Difference between might and could

Let's not wait any longer. He might not turn up. I would like to know in this sentence, could we use could instead of might? Can these two words be used alternatively? What's the difference between ...
5
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2answers
644 views

using “should” in an if adverbial clause

Do any one know if we use the word should in any if adverbial clause, so how that affects the sentence? Just my Profs. told me this: when we add "should", this emphasises the speaker's uncertainty ...
4
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2answers
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'Would' vs 'should', expressing expectation on the part of the speaker

Page 111 (77, Should expressing probability), Oxford Learner's Grammar - Grammar Finder: We can also use should to say that something is probable, either in the present or the future. ...
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“Would have + past participle” construction can be used to express speculation about the past?

The following example is taken from source A:We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning. B:Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers. The website says that it ...
5
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1answer
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“ could ” vs. “ could have ”

As I know we can use both structures to talk about past ability , but is there any difference between them? A. He could climb the mountain B. He could have climbed the mountain
12
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4answers
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Difference between “should” and “must”

What is the difference between "should" and "must"? e.g. "They should have called the police." Can I use "must" in that sentence or not? e.g. "You should read his new book." How about this sentence?
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5answers
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Why “would” instead of “will” in this sentence?

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iranˈs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. (Source) what does would imply ...
2
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2answers
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May vs can, could or would

A friend of mine always texts me asking me to call him. While it's simple and informal to just text "can you call me?" or something similar, he insists on being fancy and texts "may you please call me?...
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6answers
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Difference between will and shall

What is the difference between will and shall in modern spoken English? For example I have the following sentences: He will arrive on Tuesday. He shall arrive on Tuesday. Are there any ...
13
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2answers
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Some of you will have met me before vs Some of you met me before

I really do not get how "will" and past infinitive is used here. This comes from an example in a textbook, explaining usage of will in assumptions: Some of you will have met me before. I wonder, ...
7
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1answer
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Could have vs would have

could have vs would have I know could means indicating a possibility or ability, and would means the past of will or something about that is uncertain. Which of the following is correct? If you ...
7
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2answers
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“Why had you to” or “why did you have to”

I was solving a test on modals and there was the following line: What was the problem? Why _ leave early? The proposed fill-in combinations were: had you to did you have to must you you had to ...
-2
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1answer
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What is difference between “Can”, “Could”, “Will”, “Would”, “Shall”, and “Should”? [closed]

I can work. I could work. I will work. I would work. I shall work. I should work.
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2answers
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Using “used to” vs “would” when expressing something done in the past

I understand how the phrase "used to" can describe something that was done in the past: When I was growing up, my parents used to read to me at bedtime. My dad used to take the family out ...
5
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1answer
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Emphatic do-form with do as main verb

It is possible to use do as an auxiliary verb to denote emphasis: I do like ice cream Is it also possible to use it when do is the main verb as well? E.g.: I did do (it). He does do (it). ...
3
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2answers
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difference among “could”,“can”,“would”,“will” in meaning

If you know football really well, then you could/can/would/will probably explain it to a non-fan. source:http://marker.to/GwLeLi
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2answers
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'Should have' in a factual sense

From Dickens: ‘We all believe, up at the Lodge, Rachael, that he will be freed from suspicion, sooner or later.’ ‘The better I know it to be so believed there, my dear,’ said Rachael, ‘and the ...
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2answers
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Can/could vs. may/might (expressing typical occurrences)

The following parts are taken from PEU:1 122.2 common or typical We often use can to say what is common or typical. Scotland can be very warm in September. Ann can really ...
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2answers
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“It can be very cold…” vs “It may be very cold…”

It can be very cold in winters. It may be very cold in winters. What is the difference between these two sentences? People say when may is used then it means that it may be cold in winters or it ...
6
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1answer
453 views

What are the meanings of 'would's in the example?

“Jeremy Finch, I told you you’d live to regret tearing my camellias. You regret it now, don’t you?” Jem would say he certainly did. “Thought you could kill my Snow-on-the-Mountain, did you? Well,...
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2answers
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Difference between wouldn't and didn't [duplicate]

What is the difference between would not and did not? For example: I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop. I called my girlfriend but she didn't stop.
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just in case VS. should

I'll be at my uncle's house just in case you need to reach me. I'll be at my uncle's house should you need to reach me. Could you tell me what is the difference between those?
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5answers
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Usage of 'shall' in questions

Let's say I want to arrange a lesson with my coach and I say: Shall we have a lesson on Monday? I understand the use of 'shall' in American English is considered to be formal, whereas this is not ...
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2answers
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Can vs. Could in the reply “It can/could be in the car”

I’ve made another mistake in a modals test, in the can/could segment. The following exchange was presented: Where’s my bag? Have you seen it? – No, but it _ be in the car. I decided that both ‘...
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2answers
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Uncertain usage of “should” and construction of the verb

I am not quite sure whether in the following sentence the construction of the verbs and the rest of wording are correct: Should the construction of the University Hospital be completed, this would ...
8
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3answers
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'I wish' and counterfactual

What's the difference between the following sentences? (a) I wish they wouldn't make so much noise. (b) I wish they were not making so much noise. (c) I wish they did not make so much noise. ...
5
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4answers
108k views

“can't” versus “couldn't”, what is the difference?

That can't be Obama at the door, it's too early. That couldn't be Obama at the door, it's too early. What is the difference between them? Are they almost the same?
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2answers
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Modal verbs in reported speech

The first sentence of each row is direct speech. The second one is reported speech. The modals will and can change in the reported speech. But I am not sure what to do with should. "I will go to ...
5
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2answers
175 views

“Will” or “Would”?

In my understanding, while talking about future whether to use "would" or "will" depends on our perception and subjective. If you are confident about something you can use 'will' instead of 'would' ...
5
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6answers
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'Wouldn't wake up' vs. 'didn't wake up'

I'm reading an article about two pets rescuing their owners. After the cat managed to wake up the mother, she tried to wake up other members but they wouldn't wake up. Cathy tried to tell her ...
4
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2answers
253 views

Non-deontic uses of “should have done”

Next day we got on to more intimate subjects and I began to learn something of his life. He was now nearer fifty than forty years of age, though I should have thought him younger. I had been ...
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2answers
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makes you wish he *would* have written

This makes you wish the author would have written several advanced sequels to this amazing book. I don't like would in the sentence. Because you usually say "I wish he had written..." So for me the ...
6
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1answer
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'Would have' used alone for unreal past situations, not in conditional

Can I use would have alone like The situation would have been worse without his help. The lack of anybody's cooperation would have caused us a lot of problems. to provide the same meaning as using ...
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2answers
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“should” could be inverted in affirmative or some type of condition sentences

Should anyone phone, tell him I'm busy. If anyone phones, tell him I'm busy. I am wondering what is the difference between those? What is more, I am wondering as to the inversion in the first ...
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4answers
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Which is correct: “will resume” or “will be resumed”?

Here are the two sentences using will resume and will be resumed. What is correct here? Also, is it true that will should always be followed by be? My office process will be resumed once I ...
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2answers
228 views

How does “would” work in a sentence: The best choice would be…?

In the sentence "the best choice would be...", what does "would" mean in the following sentence? Questioner: Is this sentence correct? 'Finished eating, we went to the zoo'. Answer: I'm ...
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2answers
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“can have done” structure?

When talking about possibilities in the past, You often use "could have done". "She could have gone to the theatre with him." "He couldn't have done such a thing!" "I could have saved them." "...
14
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1answer
552 views

“Might” vs. “may”. What's the difference?

What is the difference between might and may? Is one a more formal way to speak, or is one correct and the other wrong?
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7answers
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“It can contain” or “It can contains”?

What is the correct form? 1) It can contain 2) It can contains
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1answer
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What does this “would” mean?

I heard this on a radio show. Who said this verbatim? Well... Obama? That would be correct! Why do you need to weaken your assertiveness by using "would be" instead of "that is correct?"
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6answers
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“Could have” = “would possibly have” here?

The following parts are taken from Michael Swan's, Practical English Usage (hereafter PEU): 259.2 could have ... and might have ... We can use could have + past participle to mean 'would have ...
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4answers
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Difference between “Should” vs “ought to”

It's essential that the documents (should)/(ought to) be destroyed immediately. Which one is more suitable one as I know "ought to" and "should" are synonyms.
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2answers
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He mustn't / couldn't have been hungry

He couldn't have been hungry. He mustn't have been hungry. Is there a difference in meaning between those two?
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3answers
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“Dare speak” vs. “dare to speak” vs “dares to speak”

Which is the most appropriate improvement in the following I am surprised that he dares speak in such a tone to his father. a) he dares to speak b) he dare to speak c) he dare speak I think ...

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