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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certainty values and tense - difference in the use of 'may' modals

what is the difference between the following in terms of meaning (potentiality/permission) may go may be going may have gone is it valid to say that 'may go' has greater certainty than 'may have ...
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43 views

Could possibility or hypothetical

Please let me know if could in the following sentences shows a hypothetical situation or possibility. He couldn’t lift that. It’s too heavy. He could lift that. It is not too heavy.
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Can someone help me with the sentence structure here as I cannot understand

It would be great if you would not be here around for a while. Is this sentence correct? This is I guess if clause or conditional clause
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1answer
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What is the meaning of “might” here?

Paul: it's more of a fifth date kinda revelation. Paul: So you still think you, um... might want that fifth date? Monica: (pause)...Yeah. Yeah, I do.
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121 views

“had + past participle ” VS “could have + past participle ” in conditional sentence

The following sentence is collected from cricinfo.com: They were under a little bit of pressure then. If we could have carried on, we could have set them 220 or even more than that. So to get out ...
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1answer
966 views

Doesn't or wouldn't?

Here is my phrase from Stack Overflow question. How to create a universal function so that it doesn't have to be rewritten for every new polynomial degree NN? Could (would, should, arrrgh) I write ...
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1answer
52 views

Yes, I can imagine a few situations

Consider these sentences, please: Yes, I can imagine a few situations where these words could be used. (in response to the question: "can you imagine a few contexts where...?) I can imagine ...
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2answers
129 views

“can” or “could” in the following sentence?

In the following sentence, why is "can" appropriate than "could"? Is it a grammar thing? please explain. The more satisfied you are with your job, the more effort you could put into your work.
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26 views

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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The function of “would” in the following sentences

The whole class was laughing as if they would die. The German teacher tried in vain to stop their noise. But they would not listen to her. Question 1: But they would not listen to her. What is the ...
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1answer
44 views

Did you know you (can/could) follow us on our Twitter?

Did you know you could follow us on our Twitter? Or Did you know you can follow us on our Twitter?
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1answer
16 views

would have + participle v.s. would + verb

I can't grasp the difference between their usages. Could you explain them over the following examples? It was half past five. Dad would have finished work. It was half past five. Dad would finish ...
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36 views

I can/could travel in July

I can travel in July because my exams will definitely be finished at the beginning of that month. I could travel in July because my exams will probably be finished at the beginning of that month. Do ...
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1answer
34 views

Usage of Could have

It’s ten o’clock. They could have arrived now. Does this “could have” indicates they “could have” but they didn’t? If my conclusion is correct, Are there anyother possible interpretations or not?
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2answers
50 views

I could never have dreamed of a better vacation

Consider this sentence, please: Last night I dreamed of a wonderful vacation. I could never have dreamed of a better vacation! Is the second sentence talking about my inability to dream of a better ...
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107 views

What is the meaning of “would” and why the past tense is used in these examples?

Thank you for showing interest in this post. Please have a look at the would in the following excerpts from The Economist: Conveniently for politicians, some of the pain of high inflation would ...
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26 views

Supposed to or Have to for obligations

I can't settle an argument with myself about the difference between "Supposed to" and "Have to". For instance Kids' show are supposed to have simple language Or Kids'show have to have simple ...
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38 views

would like vs simple present tense

1) After we go for a run, I would like some tea. 2) After we go for a run, I like some tea What is the difference between the meanings of these two sentences?
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1answer
68 views

I couldn't / wasn't able to drink coffee (come home late) when I was 10 years old

Please, help me to understand the usage of these modals better. As I think, the most appropriate answer is I wasn't able to drink coffee (come home late) when I was 10 years old. because these ...
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27 views

“Can” vs “could” vs “would”

I have a question regarding the usage of can, could, would. I know can Is less polite when it is used to request people to do things. I know would and could also be used in a more polite way. But can ...
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How can I distinguish when 'would' is modal verb or Future in the Past?

In some scientific article I saw this sentence. For example, using the vanilla Damerau-Levenshtein edit distance (defined as the minimum number of point changes required to transform a string into ...
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49 views

Putting in the correct form of the verb - go versus have gone

I'm practicing modals, and in an exercise I had to fill in the correct form of the verb: We couldn't _______ (go) to the concert anyway as Jamie wasn't very well. I put in ‘go’ but the correct ...
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58 views

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 ...
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1answer
100 views

Is “I could sing in an a Capella group, but I can't sing.” a “Guess” or an “ability” in the film “The social network”?

As we know, modal verbs "could" & "can't" can be used to guess something or state an ability. Eg: She could be at home now (=It is possible that she is at home now. The chance is 50%) She can't ...
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1answer
889 views

Would be vs would have been

In the following sentence which is the correct usage? Would have been or would be? Would have been sounds better to me but I am not sure. "I have written in such a way that there are some words and ...
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1answer
274 views

Can 'can't V' always have the opposite meaning of 'must V'(inference)?

He has great calves. He must run very fast. is a strong inference using 'must'. Can the sentence using 'can't' always have the opposite meaning of 'must' (inference)? You said he's faster than ...
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197 views

could instead of would

1) I would have called you, but I didn't know your number. 2) I could have called you, but I didn't know your number. Can I use 2 in place of 1? Do they mean same?
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Do we care about the rules of “Speculation Modals” when we change speculation modals from “direct into indirect speech”?

According to the rules of "Speculation Modals", we use "may / could / might + inf" to guess things in the present Eg: I may / might / could be late today "Speculation Modals" say that we use "may / ...
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1answer
97 views

Modal Verbs in First & Second Conditionals

Here's my understanding about first and second conditionals. If Tom has time, he will visit us. It's an open narrative. If Tom has time, he will visit us. If he doesn't, then he won't. If Tom ...
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2answers
169 views

What is difference between these three sentences- “would”, “would have”, and “will”

1.Tag those who'll attend her concert 2.Tag those who'd attend her concert 3.Tag those who'd have attended her concert
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2answers
139 views

The usage of would have

There is a sentence: If you really want to achieve the accomplishment like mine, you would have to accept the hardship and have experienced it for twenty years. I want to know the usage of "would ...
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1answer
273 views

Past perfect usage in hypothetical statement

On Quora, I've run into such a sentence where the author describes a hypothetical situation if astronauts wore unsuitable space suits on the Moon: At about this time, they’d realize that the sides ...
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1answer
108 views

The contextual meaning of “would” in the sentence

What is the meaning of 'would' in the following sentence? It's not what we would have expected from a professional service.
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1answer
232 views

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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1answer
5k views

“could stay” and “could have stayed”

I could stay with her, but didn't. I could have stayed with her, but ........ First, Does the meaning differ? And What are possible words for the blank space? Another: I could have gone to ...
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1answer
600 views

“could” vs “could have been” (past ability)

Anupam Pathak People ask where would AAP get money from to fulfill their promises. Remember that episode on Garbage on Satyamev Jayate where a scientist explained how a work that could have been ...
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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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1answer
28 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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11 views

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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28 views

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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36 views

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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1answer
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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21 views

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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1answer
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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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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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19 views

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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1answer
40 views

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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Can “would” be used to indicate speculation and with an unless-clause?

I'm wondering whether "would" can be used to indicate the speaker/writer's speculation, not necessarily counterfactuality or unlikelihood. Consider the following: A: Where is John now? B: ...
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You may/might/could need it in the future

Can I use "may," "might," and "could" in my first sentence? Additional information is provided for context. Yes, you may need English in the future. We don't know what'...