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Modal auxiliary verbs Problems for students studying modal

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Modal auxiliary verbs Problems for students studying modal Powered By Docstoc
					Modal auxiliary verbs Problems for students studying modal auxiliary verbs This is a difficult topic (just in case you hadn't noticed) * There are a lot of modals - ten; there are a lot of functions -far more than ten. * Most modals have more than one function ; most functions use more than one modal to express them. * The names of the functions vary from one text book to another (especially possibility and probability) * The names of the functions may not be clear to students! Overview Please note that: this table is not a complete list of the uses of modal auiliary verbs; it merely shows some common ways of using them there is some 'overlap' between different functions - the difference between 'ability', 'possibility' etc is not always clear sometimes the choice of function to describe a statement etc may depend on the speaker's precise intention Function
ability

Modals can, could

possibility*

can, could may, might

offer

can shall, would

permission

can, could, may, might, would

request

can, could, would,

Other Notes language She can drive. I could swim be able to when I was five. manage succeed You can book plane tickets (It is) possible online. Years ago you could go to America by boat. There may be life on other planets. Can I help you? Shall I give you a hand? Would you like me to do that for you? Can I borrow your pen? Could I borrow your pen? May I borrow your pen? I was wondering if I might borrow your pen. Would you mind if I borrowed your pen? Would it be possible to borrow your pen? Can you let me know as soon as possible? Could you give

Examples

advice

should, ought

suggestions

could, might

emphatic recommendation emphatic invitation strong obligation mild obligation strong prohibition

must must must should, ought mustn't

me a hand with this? Would you give me a hand with this? You should see a doctor. You ought to speak to David - he's an expert on modal auxiliary verbs. We could try turning it upside down. You might try giving their hotline a call. You must see it - it's so funny.

had better

Why don't (you / we etc.) How about -ing? (You)'ve got to (see it)

strong necessity guess or deduction about the present

must must, should, could, may, might, can't

guess or deduction about the past

must have, should have, could have, may have, might have, can't have

prediction about the future (probability)

will, may, might, could

a deduction about the future criticism about a past action etc

should could have should have shouldn't have

future in the past (past of would, should 'shall')

You must come over to dinner. I must get these brakes done. You ought to say sorry. You must not touch that. Ever. Negative Do you understand? imperative (Do not touch that_ We really must stop wasting It is essential paper like this. that She must be asleep - she's not probably (I) answering her phone. It doubt It's (un) should be ready - I put it in the likely that It's oven an hour ago. He could / possible that may /might be in the garden. It can't be Jane. She's gone abroad. Look there's Henry's briefcase. probably (I) He must have forgotten it. doubt It's (un) They should have arrived by likely It's now. He can't have gone possible that home. His bag is still here. It'll probably arrive tomorrow. It could rain this afternoon. I suppose I might change my job one day. He should be here in a minute. He left ages ago. You could have let me know! I should have done this earlier. You shouldn't have put your wallet in your back pocket. I told him I'd call him I knew I should be home soon.

1

can / could

ability criticism future prediction (probability)

guess guess about offer permission possibility request suggestion about the the present past

request Can you recommend a good grammar reference book? Can I borrow your notes from last week? Can you speak any other foreign languages apart from English? Can I give you a hand with your homework? Can you understand what I'm saying? You can't have finished already. Can't you do it a bit quicker? Could you explain to me the difference between the past simple and the past perfect? Could you read or write before you started school? guess about the past Do you think the Americans could have faked the moon landings? Could I borrow fifty dollars until next week? Could you understand what Alex told us about the past perfect last week? Do you think it could rain later? You could have told me you were having a party! You could try putting some WD40 on it. You absolute pig! How could you? I would if I could but I can't. He could be in his office. Why don't you try calling his work number?

Can you recommend a good grammar reference book? Can I borrow your notes from last week? Can you speak any other foreign languages apart from English? Can I give you a hand with your homework? Can you understand what I'm saying? You can't have finished already. Can't you do it a bit quicker? Could you explain to me the difference between the past simple and the past perfect?

request permission ability offer ability logical possibility (guess about the present) request (impatience)* request

Could you read or write before you started school? Do you think the Americans could have faked the moon landings? Could I borrow fifty dollars until next week? Could you understand what Alex told us about the past perfect last week? Do you think it could rain later? You could have told me you were having a party! You could try putting some WD40 on it. You absolute pig! How could you? I would if I could but I can't. He could be in his office. Why don't you try calling his work number?

ability guess about the past permission ability future prediction criticism suggestion possibility (criticism) ability or possibility** guess about the present

* Questions formed with negatives often have the effect of adding the feeling of the speaker. Here the feeling is impatience. ** This is a short answer so whether the can and could refer to possibility or ability, depends on the original question. 'Would you like to come to a party this evening? I would if I could but I can't...because I have to work late (possibility: it is not possible for me to come) Can you translate this isn't Mandarin for me? I would if I could but I can't...because I can't speak Mandarin (ability)

2

must
emphatic recommendation guess or guess or deduction deduction about the past about the present strong prohibition strong strong obligation to necessity self

emphatic invitation

Must we really study modal auxiliary verbs? It must be nearly time for a break. The thieves must have got in through the first floor window. It's the best film I've seen for ages. You really must see it. I really must stop eating cakes. You must be joking! You really must come over and see us some time. You must not go into that room under any circumstances. Do I make myself clear? We really must find a way to reduce our fuel costs.

strong necessity / obligation

Must we really study modal auxiliary verbs?

strong necessity / obligation

It must be nearly time for a break. The thieves must have got in through the first floor window. It's the best film I've seen for ages. You really must see it. I really must stop eating cakes. You must be joking! You really must come over and see us some time. You must not go into that room under any circumstances. Do I make myself clear? We really must find a way to reduce our fuel costs.
* i.e. Is it really necessary to study modal auxiliary verbs?

guess / deduction about the present guess / deduction about the past emphatic recommendation strong obligation to self guess / deduction about the present emphatic invitation strong prohibition strong necessity

3

may and might
permission possibility prediction about the future (probability)

guess or deduction about guess or deduction about the past the present

May I have the pleasure of the next dance? You may use the car but you are to return it immediately. Is that understood? Research suggests there may be a link between obesity and some forms of cancer. You may well be right. guess or deduction about the past The kidnappers may have taken her abroad. Do you think I might borrow your dictionary for a moment? It might rain. I'd take your brolly if I were you. The pilot might have had a heart attack. He might be in the library. Why don't you call his mobile? permission Might I have your attention for one moment, ladies and gentlemen?

May I have the pleasure of the next dance? You may use the car but you are to return it immediately. Is that understood? Research suggests there may be a link between obesity and some forms of cancer. You may well be right. The kidnappers may have taken her abroad. Do you think I might borrow your dictionary for a moment? It might rain. I'd take your brolly if I were you.

permission permission possibility possibility guess or deduction about the past permission prediction about the future

The pilot might have had a heart attack. He might be in the library. Why don't you call his mobile? Might I have your attention for one moment, ladies and gentlemen?

(probability) guess or deduction about the past guess or deduction about the present permission

4

should and ought

advice criticism about a past action a deduction about the etc future

future in the past (past of 'shall')

mild obligation

a deduction about the future He should be here in a minute; it's nearly ten fifteen. What should I do about booking a room? The party should be good ; they've ordered loads of food and drink. I keep getting chest pains. Do you think I should see a doctor? I can't keep my eyes open. I should've had a nap after lunch. Applications should be sent before 21 December. future in the past (past of 'shall') I knew that I should be home soon. criticism about a past action etc He shouldn't have spoken to her like that. It sounded so rude. You ought to take more care. I've ordered three bottles of wine. That ought to be enough. They ought to be here by now. I told them that we were starting at seven. We ought to buy her a card at least. She's been here for three years.

He should be here in a minute; it's nearly ten fifteen. What should I do about booking a room? The party should be good ; they've ordered loads of food and drink. I keep getting chest pains. Do you think I should see a doctor? I can't keep my eyes open. I should've had a nap after lunch. Applications should be sent before 21 December. I knew that I should be home soon. He shouldn't have spoken to her like that. It sounded so rude. You ought to take more care. I've ordered three bottles of wine. That ought to be enough. They ought to be here by now. I told them that we were starting at seven. We ought to buy her a card at least. She's been here for three years.

a deduction about the future advice a deduction about the future advice criticism about past action etc mild obligation future in the past (past of 'shall') criticism about a past action etc advice a deduction about the future a deduction about the future mild obligation


				
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