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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“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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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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55 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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“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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Can I use 'can' for making suggestions?

All of the grammar books I've read say I have to use 'could' for making suggestions, but none of them say so about 'can'. My question is: Is it valid to use 'can' for making suggestions? For example: ...
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Usage of would in conditional sentences

If he was angry, then would he have spoken to me. If he was angry, then he would have spoken to me. What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences???
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Would usage in past tense

I have read this in "The Hindu" newspaper of India But in 1879 he would hit the jackpot as it were and bring out the blockbuster that would reverberate across the world. Why would is used ...
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37 views

might get arrested

a. In those days, if someone criticized the government, they might get arrested. b. In those days, if someone criticized the government, they might have gotten arrested. Are both grammatically ...
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WOULD usage for future

I have read this news about a cyclone in "The Hindu" news paper of India Officials at the regional Meteorological centre in Kolkata on sunday issues warnings that squally winds of 40_50 ...
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A question about the word **would**

I'm really hoping that someone can help me. In these sentences what does would actually mean? Usually we can use would to talk about past habit, suggestions, advice, conditionals etc. 1. He would get ...
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24 views

Use of “would” to depict uncertain future

Consider the following scenario: A clinical trial that was initiated in Jan 2021 is currently recruiting participants. The estimated enrollment of the trial is 50 participants. It is not always sure ...
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29 views

“might as well be” vs “could very well be”

Compare these sentences: This woman standing right next to him in this picture could very well be his mother This woman standing right next to him in this picture might as well be his mother Are ...
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would be nothing vs wouldn’t be anything

I wonder if you could explain me why the second version isn't used, only the first one. Ngram As I understand, there is no grammatical mistake in the second sentence, isn't it? I’m sure there would ...
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I needn't have done for an action that wasn't done

Would it be wrong (in BrE) to say that when something was done but it wasn't necessary only "needn't have done" is used but it is not used for an action that wasn't done? For example, "...
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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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47 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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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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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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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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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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1answer
383 views

CAN vs BE ABLE TO vs KNOW HOW TO

How to say a sentence down in without using "know how to"? I know how to play chess but I can't play it with you because I have to go I want to combine two things: 1) Know how to 2) Have such a ...
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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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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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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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29 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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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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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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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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949 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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214 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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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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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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Are “can” and “could” interchangeable in a sentence

He is so hungry that he could eat a horse. He is so hungry that he can eat a horse. I want to know if I can interchange the idiom "could eat a horse" to "can eat a horse".
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280 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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110 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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241 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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“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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611 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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Inferred probability: when is 'must' interchangeable with 'will'?

According to The Teacher's Grammar of English with Answers: A Course Book and Reference Guide , Must expresses inferred probability or suposition. In (44a), the speaker draws a conclusion on the ...
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You would think he would help me

Q) If someone didn't help you (on a particular occasion)/has never helped you in the past, can you say any one of the following: a) You would think he would help me. (implying he didn't help/has never ...
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She [ could / was able to ] understand what I said

Is my interpretation correct? She could understand what I said. She was able to understand what I said. So like, both sentences are grammatical and interchangeable. But the former is more like ...
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“The possibility that this {could} be true”, is “could” here redundant or wrong?

If "possibility" is used in a phrase that is similar to the one in the title, then what follows obviously could be true. To me, using could makes the sentence have a double possibility (an ...
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Verb usage with always

Consider the following two sentences: John always play football. John always plays football. Which of the above two sentences are correct? The first sentence seems right to me since there are too ...
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1answer
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modal verbs in context

only you could make it better. What's the meaning of this sentence? Since there is "could", does it mean that the "you" is the only person able to do it (make it better) ? and is ...
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“Your working in London next summer might be a great experience”

I know I can use these modal verbs when talking to a specific person, but I am wondering if I can use all these three modal verbs with a generic subject "you" or "people". Working ...
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“Can be originated” vs “can originate”

While writing the thesis, google docs proposed me to use "can originate" instead of "can be originated". Seriously, is there any difference? I am not a native speaker, that's why I ...