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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What modals are used in first, second and third conditional?

First conditional if + present tense + will + bare infinitive Second conditional if + past tense + would + bare infinitive Third conditional if + past perfect + would have + past participle From what ...
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because he might get shot

a. He didn't want to go out, because he might get shot, but they forced him to. I don't know what happened to him. b. He didn't want to go out, because he could get shot, but they forced him to. I don'...
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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1answer
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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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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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“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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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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396 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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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"?