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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1answer
348 views

My understanding of "could"

I could play with my dear friends tomorrow at the seaside. Unfortunately, my sister happened to fall ill. I'll have to break my promise and stay at home to take care of her. I could play with my dear ...
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793 views

Is the epistemic "will have + past participle" construction compatible with "past adverb"?

I asked this question one year ago. Nico gave an excellent answer, but I still have some confusion. A: We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning. B: Really? They would have ...
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What is the meaning of "I would not now have exchanged" in this sentence?

That night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings: I feasted ...
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Use of Modal Verbs 'Must' and 'Will' to Express Certainty

When I see examples of 'must' or 'will' showing certainty, I find that the main verb is either a stative verb or a present participle preceded by 'be'. How different are the two sentences in the ...
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1answer
122 views

"I might as well sell it" Or "I should sell it"

I read the following in a book. I use my car very little. There is no point in keeping it. I might as well sell it. Is it Okay to replace "might as well" with "should"? I should sell it. What ...
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2answers
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'managed to' vs. 'could'

You use could for general ability, but if you want to say somebody did something in a specific situation, you use was/were able to, or managed to (not could). I looked very carefully and I could/ ...
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What's the meaning of 'would'? [duplicate]

I didn’t look [at Mrs. Dubose lying on the bed] any more than I had to. Jem repened Ivanhoe and began reading. I tried to keep up with him, but he read too fast. When Jem came to a word he didn’t ...
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226 views

differentiating between "would like" and "like to"

I would like to play tennis today I like to play tennis today Would you tell me which one you would rather use?
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838 views

when to use "had better"

I need your help. I have the following three statements: People should unplug toasters before they clean them. You should have unplugged the toaster before you tried to clean it. You had ...
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1k views

modal + perfect tense

“To speak truth, sir, I don’t understand you at all; I cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth. Only one thing, I know: you said you were not as good as you should ...
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"X won't Y" (able/willing) vs. "X doesn't Y"

In the preschooler series "Peppa Pig" I met the following two sentences: George runs as fast as he can but the kite won't fly. Peppa runs as fast as she can but the kite still won't fly. I ...
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2answers
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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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"My dog could [have] jump very high when he was younger"

I did a test and made a mistake. I wrote: "My dog could have jumped very high when he was younger." The right sentence was: "My dog could jump very high when he was younger." When I was making ...
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2answers
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How do you distinguish possibility "can" from ability "can"?

To make my question more understandable, I quoted a student's essay. I have emphasized the instances in bold type. I feel confident enough to tell the difference with some but less so with others. ...
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5answers
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I'd sooner/I'd rather/I'd prefer

a.— I'd sooner we travelled by plane. b.— I'd rather we travelled by plane. c.— I'd prefer we travelled by plane. Is there any difference between the following constructions? I've seen that I'd ...
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He can't / mustn't have been looking where he was going

Tom walked into a wall. He can't have been looking where he was going. a) Can I use mustn't instead of can't here? ("He mustn't have been looking where he was going.") b) If I use couldn't instead ...
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1answer
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"Who knows what we could find!" -- what would be the difference if "might" were used?

Here is a piece of a dialogue from a video game. A group of mages is going to explore some ancient ruins; they seem to be doing this out of interest. Elvali: "I can't believe we're doing this." ...
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Tense disagreement in "I guess he would + perfect infinitive" sentences

In 1966 all of the US currency was withdrawn from Vietnam and our government printed Military Payment Certificates. How did he know and how did Bulldog know? I guess he would have just ...
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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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How often do you use "can('t) have done" structure?

How often do you use "can('t) have done" structure? I have read and watched relatively enough but my eye and ear are not accustomed to it. He can't have been at the meeting, he's on a ...
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mustn't vs needn't [closed]

How to distinguish use cases of these verbs? Mustn't is a negative form of modal verb. We should use when something prohibited. You mustn't talk in the library. Needn't it's regular verb with negative ...
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1answer
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<My understanding> You know what probably happened? and others

I have learned more about conjecture. Link: You know what probably happened? So, my understanding is as follows. First 1. You know what probably happened? 2. You know what I think probably happened? ...
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"I don't think he will leave" vs. "I don't think he would leave"

What is the difference between will and would in the following context? John: Hey Subha, did you know Lionel Messi has got a huge offer from PSG to join them? What do you think about the ...
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9k views

as much as you could (instead of can)

Can I advise someone by saying: Practice it as much as you could Instead of: Practice it as much as you can And what about: I'll try it as much as I could Whatever it may refer to. Sorry ...
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1answer
877 views

Can we use 'may' instead of 'might' in this case?

Saturday. (Beginning perhaps amended.) I know it is madness to keep this journal but it gives me a strange thrill to do so; and only a loving wife could decipher my microscopic script. Let me ...
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1answer
336 views

Were Going To and Would

I read this sentence: None of us knew if we were gonna go back home again. I would like to know if the sentence above can be re-phrased differently using the modal "would". I was thinking of ...
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"Would", being the short version of "would like to" here?

Would can be used to describe what people are willing to do. This can also be seen as including an unspoken condition. Tony would lend you his car. (... if you asked him ...) Only a ...
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Stressed "would" vs. stressed "will": which explanation is more precise?

We can use would to express annoyance or irritation at things that are happening now. There is usually a sense that this is typical, or not very surprising. You would say that! ( it'...
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1answer
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How to determine if 'would' is simple past or past subjunctive here?

Andrew McKillop, author of The World’s Final Energy Crisis, calculates that ✘ (b) China, India and other developing countries will never be able to achieve the vehicle “saturation” ownership ...
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I'll call you when I get there

“I’ll call you when I get there.” This could be said to a person who comes to see me off in a terminal, I think. But this ‘will’ seems to be somewhat awkward, in that ‘will’ denotes strong ...
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1answer
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What is the difference between "how could you do" and "how could have you done" when used to express critisism or annoyance?

What is the difference between how could you do and how could have you done when used to express critisism or annoyance? For example: You took Dad's car without asking. How could you do that! ...
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3answers
123 views

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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2answers
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What is the difference between: "He had to arrive..." "He had to have arrived..."

He had to arrive before we began yesterday. He had to have arrived before we began yesterday.
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Is this "helped + make" combination a form of subjunctive?

I saw the following sentence on this page: https://www.inc.com/video/minda-zetlin/4-habits-that-helped-make-warren-buffett-a-billionaire.html 4 Habits That Helped Make Warren Buffett a Billionaire ...
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4answers
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What is different between "What is the dog can do?" and "What can the dog do?"

What are different "what is the dog can do?" and" what can the dog do?" The right answer is: "What can the dog do?" The question is how to make Interrogative sentences? The sentence is It ...
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2answers
2k views

How to choose between shall and should? [duplicate]

Where shall we go? Where should we go? Shall we eat outside? Should we eat outside? Which is correct and why? Thank you in advance.
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when to use "will" and "may" in a sentence.

Should I use "will" or "may" in the following sentence: I'm not planning on leaving the country any time soon, but you just don't know when a passport may/will come in handy"? One issue raised ...
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2answers
173 views

Using "need" as a modal

consider: Changes need only be small to make the proposal acceptable. Q1 : Does it mean it only requires the changes to be small (It is suffice to make the proposal acceptable) or It asserts ...
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1answer
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Can we use some modals interchangeably? [closed]

What's the difference among the following sentences? It might rain tomorrow It would rain tomorrow It feels like rain tomorrow It could rain tomorrow It will rain tomorrow Secondly, can ...
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3answers
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Using 'can' for possibility

I wonder if it is possible to use 'can' to signify possibility in the sentence below. I understand that 'could' or 'might' are more suitable here. The context is that we are expecting Jack to call ...
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"He had to have arrived by 3 o'clock yesterday."

He had to have arrived by 3 o'clock yesterday. Is it grammatically correct? What does it mean?
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meaning of 'would have to'

I would have to believe that the only logical way for my life to go after the riots in 2001 was to dream-up a non-profit called InkTank, to encourage anybody who ever wanted to set things on fire ...
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1answer
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Negation of sentences containing modals and auxiliary verbs

This question drew my attention to something that seems perfectly clear to native English speakers, but leaves English learners bewildered. When you negate a sentence containing a modal or an ...
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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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171 views

Modals and Verbs for obligations and advice

must, should, need, have to, and have got to Are all these sentences correct to say? We must work to earn money. We should work to earn money. We need to work to earn money. We have to work to ...
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Can and Could Usage differences

1). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he couldn’t fill a concert hall now. 2). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he can’t fill a concert hall now. ...
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Will and would modal verb differences

1). A majority of voters approved changes to Russia's constitution that would allow president valdmir putin to hold power until 2036 2). A majority of voters approved changes to Russia's constitution ...
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Modal verbs in Zero Conditionals (Present Real Conditionals)

What modal verbs can be used in Zero Conditionals (Present Real Conditionals)? For example, I have stumbled across such examples: If you want to go to university, you must study hard. If it can be ...
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There would be/will be/might be

I'm using these constructions without any confidence. I don't know wheater they are correct or not, in case where I try to build up the whole sentence with them. These constructions are: There ...
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3answers
6k views

past tense of "should"

I found the following in a grammar textbook under a unit about “should” as a modal verb: “I suggested that she should buy a car.” But it is stated there that the past tense of “should” is “should ...