Questions tagged [modality]

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Negation with modality

There are two ways of negating a modal sentence: A) negation of modality: you [need not] go there B) negation of proposition: you must [not go there] With deontic modality we can either deny a ...
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Might have been caught/ Might be caught (In a traffic jam)

If someone hasn't shown up, I'm guessing it is because of the traffic. Which word form should I use? Considering that "was caught" Is an action in the past, thus: He might have been caught in the ...
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Can for possibility with time markers

I'm reading a book on modality where the author gives the following examples of possibility with "can": It can be cold in Stockholm in winter - okay It can be cold in Stockholm now - wrong ...
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Can VS May for possibility [duplicate]

We use "might/may" to indicate probability: Example 1: This trip might be dangerous We use "can" for something certain, for an objective possibility: Example 2: Who knows, it can go either way ...
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When is “may” a fact?

Why is "may" found in sentences that express fact? For example: "They may be friends, but that doesn't meant that they don't fight." "I may be 63, but I can still dance out the evening."
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Are Modals Stative?

We always use state verbs when we want to describe their meanings.For example we use "be able to" to imply the function of modal "can","was able to" for modal "could"; "have-had to" or "be obliged to" ...
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Modals/Reported Speech

İn reported speech for example we change may to might and might or should stay the same like : She said "I should do my homework this night.". She said that she should do her homework last night. ...
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Would have been beeping

I would just like to know if this is idiomatic? If that machine were broken, that would have been beeping since I turned it on.
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Usage of “could” in “could account for as much as 7.0%”

“College Factual ranks Northwestern U as 46th out of a total 1,059 colleges and universities for sheer popularity with students from China. Chinese students could account for as much as 7.0% of ...
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952 views

would make or would have made?

Suppose the following sentence occurs in a context about a lawsuit, and in the the first sentence of the paragraph that follows, the Supreme Court revoked the ruling. In other words, the ruling isn't ...
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Modality with Could

"The reason you couldn’t sprint a marathon, he says, is that your body can’t supply energy rapidly enough using the aerobic system." Extracted from a BBC article. I can't understand the use of could,...
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can we use “can”, “could”, “may” & “might” to ask for suggestions"?

Note: make sure you distinguish "make suggestions" & "ask for suggestions" -make suggestions: eg: you could stay at home if it rains -ask for suggestion: eg: "Where shall I put the ...
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How to solve the double meaning of “Must be”?

The papers must be blue This sentence means: I have not seen the papers but I'm sure they are blue. If it's an instruction, it means: You must use blue papers. Any other color will not work. Am I ...
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“all the efforts I put in [would/could/may] just go to waste” (choice of modal?)

Let's say you are hypothesizing. And you say: I must have great accuracy in English, and if I don't, all the efforts I put in would/could/may just go to waste. In this sentence, I know would is ...
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It would always be/it will always be

Let's say you are in a question and answer portion in a contest. And it goes like this: Question: What do you think is the disadvantages of being famous? You: I think your privacy. Paparazzi ...
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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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Modal verb after 'In all probability'

Which modal verb comes after 'in all probability' ? For example 'In all probability it will/may/can rain tonight. Which modal is appropriate?
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Why is 'would' used here instead of 'will'

Someone commented following line. "This time,a vote for Democrats(or any party) would be a vote for progress;a vote for third front would be a vote for instability and indecision." I don't think ...
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Purpose of 'would' here

"I would definitely encourage each of you to follow-up on their initiative,write e-mails,posters,talk to professors and even reach out to people outside the university." Is would used in above line ...
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Should I use conditional or not

John is learning to write a speech.But he has not to give any speech in near future.His teacher gave him an advice. Which of the followings lines should be used as an advice by teacher, considering ...
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Why 'would be' is used in this line

In India,there is a great cricket player named Sachin(he has retired few years back).One of his colleagues (who used to play at international level along with him)praised him and said following line: ...
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Use of “will” vs “would”

"You have used a cumbersome method to solve this question.I would not / will not use it." Which of above two(would and will) is preferrable to use? Can would not be used above to politely refuse?
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Is it wrong when you use “might + inf” when you are telling a past story?

See this conversation: A: There was robbery here. What happened? B: I saw a man yesterday. He went to the house. He might enter the house but I am not sure. is it wrong to use "might enter" ...
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Is it grammatically correct to use a modal equivalent 'have to do smth' in present perfect form?

Recently I have come across the following two sentences in a test for Student's Book Activate Level A2 published by Pearson/Longman in 2010 by Joanne Taylore-Knowles: Has Naomi had to go? and Have ...
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Is “which may causes” the correct phrase?

I'm just practicing passage reconstruction. Here I've formed a phrase "Organic former usually use natural pesticides and fertilizers instead using chemical pesticide which may causes economic damage ...
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“I'd rather she has' vs ”I'd rather she had"

Which one is correct and why? She hasn't been to Paris. I'd rather she has been to Paris. / I'd rather she had been to Paris. Thanks.
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Grammatical mood of “loved” in the following sentence

in the following sentence second clause has conditional mood. but what about first clause (subjunctive or indicative?). If you loved me you would support me.
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What is the use of “wouldn't”?

What is the use of "wouldn't" in this sentence? "I was trying to get to sleep, but Jimmy wouldn't stop talking" Thanking you Scottish
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Do I suspect he is regretful now, or I guess he will be regretful in the future in saying “He may regret having quit his job”?

He may regret having quit his job. Does this mean It is possible that he now wishes he hadn't quit his job. or It is possible that he will eventually wish he hadn't quit his job. ?
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“I had better go now.” or “I have better go now.” [duplicate]

Why did the writer use "had"? Why didn't he use "have? Well, thank you for showing me a great dance. I had better go now.
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Is it possible to say “Will won't”

Will is usually used to indicate future event, as in I will go to school However, it can also function as a modal auxiliary expressing a willingness or refusal. Like I won't go to school But I ...
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The exact meaning of “must+have+past participle”

Are these sentences interchangeable? I think I have left my keys at home. I must have left my keys at home. For example: If somebody asks us "where have you left your keys?" which answer ...
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What is the meaning of “as if” here?

What is the meaning of "as if" in B? A:The ceiling in this room doesn't look very safe, does it? B:No, it looks as if it's going to fall down. Can we omit it? Another question, can we use ...
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“Would” confusion: “it would mean spending more time at home”

As per my understanding "would" is used in the situations below: Conditional sentences Past of will Repetition in the past Future in the past. Could someone help me to understand in what category ...
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Would come vs will come

I'm not sure but I think the following sentences are related to the certainty or uncertainty of the fact that he will come or not.Or I think would come indicates some kind of uncertainty than will ...
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Use and meaning of “wouldn't” in “you wouldn't” and “a speaker wouldn't”

I have asked many questions about "would" both in ELL and ELU. But I still have a question about the use of "would". I have recently asked a question which @Jay also answered. He used "wouldn't" in ...
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you could say vs you would say [duplicate]

What's the difference in the meaning between "you could say" and "you would say"? when something is in specific context and If that (something) is usual, we use would instead of could? I'm not sure ...
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Is there a 'should be' missing in this sentence?

Shouldn't it be 'and the sale (should) be delayed'? 'Should' is in the bracket because it is self-understood maybe.
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How to use 'would' to express vagueness

I have been told that modal 'would' can be used to express 'vagueness'. Its usage has been linked below but I'm not fully convinced yet with it because I don't know in what kind of context it would be ...
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871 views

Is it correct to use 'could' to describe past permission?

Recently I`ve been revising my knowledge about the verb could. I know that could is used as the past form of can to describe a general ability in the past. E.g. I could work 10 hours a day when ...
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Help with verb tense and modality differences among 'Whenever he'd knock, he was greeted' variations

Whenever he'd knock on people's doors, requesting them to let him spend the night at their place, he'd be greeted with unfriendly faces. Whenever he'd knock on people's doors, requesting them to let ...
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Then is time vs it is time

At the end of the movie Rise of the Guardians the guardians say to Jack Frost: Then is time you take the Oath. I have two questions concerning this sentence. The first one is if then is time is ...
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Why is 'were' used here instead of 'was'?

In Herodotus 3.81 : Megabyzus spoke next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy:- "In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy," he observed, "I fully concur; but his ...
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How much certainty is there in adverb “probably”?

Merriam-webster defines probably as: very likely : almost certainly How much certainty does adverb probably actually contain? Examples and contexts are greatly appreciated!
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What are the differences between 'need' and 'have need of'?

Alida had need of company. Alida needed company. Please say what are the differences between these two sentences.
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Interchangeably: You're supposed x You should

Can I use "should" rather than "you're supposed"? Aren't you supposed to give him anesthectic? Shouldn't you give him anesthetic?
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May vs can, could or would

A friend of mine always texts me asking me to call him. While it's simple and informal to just text "can you call me?" or something similar, he insists on being fancy and texts "may you please call me?...
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“be obligated to do” versus “have to”

Is it possible to say something like The employees were obligated to work in the previous weekend. I deliberately didn't use have to in the sentence. So, is it?
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“I am to” vs “I have to”

I've seen a couple of sentences with "to be" + "infinitive with to" such as: You are to do that. I know it has to do with a kind of obligation but I'm still wondering what is the difference ...
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'If he is convicted, he would be taken' - Mixed conditional?

Consider: If he is convicted, he would be taken to a lawful place of execution where he’d be put down in the most humane method known to science, either by hanging or by lethal injection. Is the ...