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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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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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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41 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'...
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What are the differences between these sentences using am, will, and would?

This is my opinion about it. I am interested to see if anyone else knows more about this. This is my opinion about it. I will be interested to see if anyone else knows more about this. This is my ...
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What is the difference between “have to do”, “have to have done”, “had to do” and “had to have done”?

Could you tell what is the difference in meaning between the following sentences? To get a place at the college, you have to pass the exams. To get a place at the college, you have to have passed ...
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can/may/might/could

Although you can visit these places, you’re welcome to stay in the hotel if you are tired. Which one of the modals "may", "might", "could" can I use in place of "...
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“would” can be used to express the degree of certainty? Or it is always used under hypothetical condition?

I am wondering about "would" can be also used to express the degree of certainty. Not any website shows any example sentences using "would" to express the degree of certainty only ...
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My question is related to modals and how to use them to express different degrees of certainty?

I'm a teacher of English as a foreign language. I'm about to deal with a lesson of modals and how to use them to express degrees of certainty. I have some questions I'm confused about the meaning of ...
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Use “would” and “could” to express possibility or politeness: do we need to change tenses in the subordinate clauses?

According to https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modal-would.htm, would can be used to create remoteness of possibility or probability remoteness between speakers (formality, politeness). Here ...
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55 views

Sequence of tenses for modal verbs?

Would, could, and might can be used to express possibility or uncertainty in the present or future (they are the "softer" and more "indirect", or more "polite" forms of ...
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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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21 views

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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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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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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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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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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34 views

“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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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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35 views

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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311 views

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 + 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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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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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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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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Should have + verb + By now?

Sometimes, I see sentences like the following, using two structures that, as far as my knowledge goes, aren't supposed to be together. I should've been somebody by now. You should've known it by now ...
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can “could have” be either a past modal/auxiliary form as well as a stative form of have?

Consider the phrase, "is it possible, we could have rain (or rainy weather) on Saturday". This doesn't seem to be a past modal form as there is no verb it modifies, so seems more like a ...
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29 views

Can he be serious?

a) What can they be doing? b) Can he be serious? What does "can" mean in sentences a) and b)? Can we replace it by "could"?
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If I had been, I might/might have

If I had been serious about music when I was young, I might participate in the concert tomorrow. If I had been serious about music when I was young, I might've participated in the concert tomorrow. ...
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1answer
107 views

could vs might (for expressing the future possibility)

Could vs might(for the future possibility) I could go there. I might go there. I know that these two sentences talk about less possibility to go there. but, I can’t know their slight difference. When ...
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The Type Of Person Who Might Appear

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/might says: MODAL VERB You use "might" to indicate that something could happen or be true in particular circumstances. (emphasis mine) ...
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Using “will” vs “would” to express (desire/willingness) in the present

If I'm in the present time and I'm trying to open the door using the key that doesn't want to go inside the lock. Should I say: 1- The key wouldn't go in. 2- They key won't go in.
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Can we make similar sentences as to the meaning of the sentences using might

1.It was probable that he would go but he didn't go. 2.It was probable that he had gone./Probably he had gone. 3.It is probable that he has gone. Can we make similar sentences as to the meaning of the ...
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Usage of Could vs Usage of Can

He goes to Delhi every week so that he could see his Mother. My friends and people here said that it’s wrong and we should use “can” instead of could, as “could” is used in past forms and the given ...
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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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629 views

Difference between might and might have

He might have gone. But luckily we reached his house and found him. He might go. But luckily we reached his house and found him. What do the bold sentences mean? Do they refer to the past? When to use ...
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modal verb could usage

How could you do this to me? [It expresses outrage or anger] While studying the usage of "could", I found the above sentence. But I studied that "could" is used for hypothetical ...
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Modal verbs Can and Could differences

1). No one can fool me. 2). No one could fool me. What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences?
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Usage of modal verb Could

How could we spend this time on the island? Does this mean 1)It is impossible or difficult for us to spend time in the island? Or 2) What are the possible means to stay in the forest? If the ...
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Usage and understanding of could

I could go to the cinema. As I am not a native speaker, usage of modal verbs is always confusing to me. I understand the above sentence in following cases. So please say if I am wrong. Case1: It is ...
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How to understand the tense of this type of sentences

Let's look at the sentence: I might go to the market. We know that 'might' is the past form of 'may'. Also might is used to describe possibility in the present. Then what does the above sentence refer ...
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1answer
19 views

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 vs would usage differences

1).What will you do if you find a suitcase with $10,000? 2).What would you do if you found a suite case with $10,000? I know that first sentence is normal and second sentence is hypothetical and ...
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40 views

Usage of can and could

He goes to London every month so that he can see his ailing father. Can we use could in the above sentence instead of can? Some people are saying we can't use "could" here, as could is ...
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33 views

Can vs Could usage differences

1). His dance was unbelievable! I don't know if I can do do it. 2). His dance was unbelievable! I don't know if I could do it. What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences?