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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Is there a nuance of meaning between “could” and “would” when asking someone to do something politely?

Could you tell me if there is a nuance of meaning between could and would when asking someone to do something politely? For example: Kate, could you pick up some milk on your way home? Kate, would ...
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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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If + have + past particle, …may have + past participle

Please consider: If you have ever been woken up before sunrise by the trilling and chirping of birds outside your window, you may have wondered: why do birds sing so loud, so early in the morning? I ...
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auxiliary verb or bare infinitive?

"She might have been waiting for us" ‘Have been waiting’ forms the present perfect progressive tense ‘might’ is a modal verb The verb that follows modal verbs is suppose to be a bare ...
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2answers
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Verb phrase may be coming

In this sentence below: “They may be coming sooner than we expected”. Is the word ‘be’ in this sentence a helping verb? Is the word ‘coming’ in this sentence a verbal? What tense is this sentence in?...
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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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can vs could difference

The most we can expect is a slight cut in the sales-tax. (this is what is reasonable or acceptable) With a new wind generation record of 4,131 megawatts set on 14 September, the question of how far ...
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How to handle con­di­tional clauses where it’s un­known whether the pro­ta­sis’s con­di­tion ac­tu­ally got ful­filled or not?

I have a ques­tion re­gard­ing con­di­tional sen­tences, as far I know the “third con­di­tional” is used when we’re talk­ing about a con­di­tion from the past that never ac­tu­ally hap­pened af­ter ...
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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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Inversion in this sentence: “Nothing can/could I do…”

Is it possible to use an inversion like this: "Nothing could (can) I do in that situation."
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should vs. have to vs. must in specific context?

In the following situation, which fits best (should or must or have to): I think that it is very important to look after the environment. This means that we should/must/have to cut down the amount of ...
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“can” for referring to the future

You/one can get very nasty skin diseases from bathing in dirty water. I know this is a generally true sentence. But could it refer exclusively to the future?
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Which should we use?'Can' or 'could'?

Is it possible to use 'can' instead of 'could' in this sentence? It encouraged me to bring my old coats for the homeless so that they could stay warm.
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Modal verb and base form

Example: Your tuition could be completely covered. Question: Why is this sentence correct? I thought with modal, you must always use base form.
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Usage of “can” and “could”

Look at these sentences: (1)He lost to a better player. He won in every other way one can imagine. (2)You/one can get very nasty skin diseases from bathing in dirty water. It can be seen that both ...
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Using 'will' or 'would'?

My friend said, "I would do it if I get the chance." But what will be the difference if I use 'will' in place of 'would' in the above sentence?
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Uses of “could”

Person/learner A: What does "take" mean in this sentence? Interlocutor B: You'll need to provide more context for a good answer. (a) In that particular sentence, the verb "take" ...
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Could I go vs Can I go

My school teacher said that "Could I go?" is more polite than "Can I go?" but according to me "Could I go?" can not be used interchangeably but should be used as to infer ...
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would have been/would be

I wish everyone was beautiful in this world. And nobody would have been ugly like me. I have a doubt concerning the second sentence. And nobody would be ugly like me. And nobody would have been ...
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“How couldn't I do” vs. “how couldn't I have done” in the sense of criticiizing oneself for failure to do something in the past

Could you tell me if I have to use how couldn't I or how couldn't have I in the sense of criticizing oneself for failure to do something in the past? For example: The problem turns out to be so easy. ...
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Why “might” is used in the following situation but not “might have”?

I found the sentense "he hesitated before ringing her, fearful of what she might say". I wonder why "... might say" is used but not "... might have said"?
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2answers
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”Need to” and ”Would need to”

What is the difference between the following sentences? (1) You/I need to do it (2) You/I would need to do it Do we use the second one for distancing from reality and being more polite?
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cannot be diligent

Someone told me "cannot" isn't used properly in the following because it means "incapable or unwilling." Do you think it's incorrectly used? I saw it being used to talk about ...
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For all I know, he left last night

Are the following sentences both correct? If so, is there any difference? For all I know, he left last night. For all I know, he might have left last night.
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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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“Your child can/may/could/might do better with a different teacher”

Your child can do better with a different teacher. Your child may do better with a different teacher. Your child could do better with a different teacher. Your child might do better with a different ...
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Using the modal verb “would”

I was wondering which whether using the modal verb "would" in the following sentence is necessary or not. She was going to start her independent life with her husband before long. That was ...
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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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Is “if rain wouldn't come,” grammatically correct?

I would like to ask if the two following expressions are correct; A) If rain wouldn't come, I could go on a picnic. B) If rain didn't come, I could go on a picnic.
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Is it ok to use “would” for future reference?

Is the below sentence correct:- we would be using these spices from next time onwards. Probably, would is used as past tense for will, but if the above sentence is correct, than why are we using it ...
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When-clause refers to the future or general present

You can get into even worse trouble when you're not careful. You could get into even worse trouble when you're not careful. You may get into even worse trouble when you're not careful. You might ...
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modal verb “could” with “when/whenever”

Dystopias and You: What Could Happen if We’re Not Careful. (http://pezperry.uncadighist.org/dystopias-and-you-what-could-happen-if-were-not-careful/) Can I replace the "if" with "when/...
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can we use must in past tense?

As I know, we can't use must in past tense. But I remember someone has been talked to me. That they can using. I don't remember exact may be some thing like below: I came your room yesterday. I didn'...
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may or maybe + can

A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth. A vegetarian diet may provide enough calories for a child's normal growth. Does sentence 2) mean the following: 2a) A ...
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Examples of modal verbs with Zero Conditionals (Present Real Conditionals)

Yesterday I asked this question, but haven't got any answer so far... So I try to ask that my question in another way (thorough some simpler questions): Can the following sentences be considered ...
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will or would or must in a sentence

As you all will know, election day is next week. Can we replace the "will" with "would" or "must"?
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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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MUST with the continuous infinitive (obligation)

Usually, must with the continuous infinitive conveys an inference. 1 He must be repairing his computer now. (I think he is repairing) But is it possible to use it with the sense of obligation? 2 ...
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MUST + perfect infinitive (obligation)

As far as I know people say that "must have done" can't express obligation in the past. However, how would you classify these sentences then? 1 To qualify for this position, you must have ...
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It depends/ will depend/ would depend on something

A: Is it "soccer" or "football"? B: I think "soccer" is more AmE, so it depends on who you're talking to. I think "soccer" is more AmE, so it'll depend on who ...
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Can't have + V3 or Couldn't have + V3

Is there any difference between the following sentences? If Jones was at work until six, he can't have done the murder. If Jones was at work until six, he couldn't have done the murder.
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May/might had done

We can use the structure “may/might have done” to talk about what was possible to happen or the past possibilities: You might have left your cellphone at work. = Perhaps you have left your cellphone ...
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Usage Would instead of did

Why do natives sometimes use "would" instead of did in simple past questions? I can't find the rule about this anywhere. I hear such questions like "Why would you call the police? "...
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He could be in the market

A: Where is John? B: I don't know. He could be in the market. You could write a letter to the principal. The first sentence is a speculation, and the second, a suggestion. Q: Do we stress the first &...
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Should have + past particle = past simple?

I was reading The Great Gatsby and here's the sentence. I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities. He did rent a house in fact. so I don't think he's expressing regret or hope....
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I'll have to agree with you

While agreeing with someone on something, can I use any of these instead of the simple "I agree with you"? I have to agree with you. I'll have to agree with you. I'm going to have to ...
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I would/could/might call it self-defense

We use "would" when we want to express our opinions, https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/would: Definition 14: I think you'd agree he's a very respected columnist. I would ...
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I can imagine going to a place

Yes, I can imagine a few situations where these words could be used. (= I am able to imagine...) (it is in response to the question: "Can you think of a context where...?") I can imagine ...
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would have done or had done

I would have appreciated it if my colleagues had done the same for me. I would have appreciated it if my colleagues would have done the same for me. Is the second sentence correct?

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