View Poll Results: You really ____ not to have said that.

Voters
815. This poll is closed
  • should

    443 54.36%
  • ought

    372 45.64%
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Thread: Modals

  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Modals

    1) Are modals verbs? Or just tools to express nuances?
    Two quotations:
    "I came, I saw, I conquered" (Julius Ceasar)
    Is the meaning of this sentence clear? Perfectly.

    "Some say they can, some say they can't
    some say they will, some say they won't" (Lyrics from "Boredom", a Procol Harum song from the sixties)
    What is this guy singing about? Is the meaning clear without a verb after the modals?
    Are modals verbs or adverbs or what? It is an intiguing topic. They display characteristics of both, but no other adverbs shows tense, while no other verbs do what they do. Indeed, the are the duckbill platypus of English grammar. In the Procul Harum case, meaning is not clear. Meaning would be supplied through ellipsis and different meaning could be supllied. If you take the lyric 'some girls will, and some girls won't', it is clearer that it refers to sex. In Boredom, it could be many things, but ellipsis would make them complete.
    However, I meant putting two modals together:
    * you should can
    * he will must
    * you ought to may



    2) Why is it so important to consider "ought" as a modal? It would be much simpler if it were not.
    I don't see why it would be much simpler- the only issue is the use of the infinitve marker. I'm not even saying it is important to say it is a verb. This discussion started because I disagreed with the assertion that it is technically not a modal verb. On a learner's site, where most will have dutifully looked in Michael Swan and seen that he calls it a modal, it might be a bit confusing to make such an assertion without qualifying it as an opinion, not a technical truth.

    In any given sentence, if you replace a modal with another, you change the meaning.
    "You may be right" is not the same as "You could be right" or "You might be right".
    It is really true that no two modal sentences can be synonymous if the verb is different? Hmm, possibly, but, then again, possibly not.

    Is there a difference in meaning between "You should come" and "You ought to come"?
    A difference comparable to the one between "You needn't come" and "You don't need to come"?
    In my opinion, there is one: in each pair, the first sentence is "modalised", the second is not -- the speaker does not express his/her personal point of view.
    Some feel that ought to can carry a more critical or hectoring tone, so they can distinguish them, but this would only be in some cases, and would normally be in spoken forms where tone of voice could be used.

    If there is no difference in meaning, why 2 modals to express the same idea?
    Why not? There's no rule against duplication.



    PS, laying ought to to one side, do you think of the other modals as verbs or what?

  2. #12
    jean-paul Guest

    Default Re: Modals

    >However, I meant putting two modals together:
    >* you should can
    >* he will must
    >* you ought to may

    Of course, you are right about that, but we do find examples of such occurrences in substandard English. For example, in some novels by Barry Gifford (of 'Sailor and Lula' fame), you find dialogues containing things like:

    'Might could she will!'

    (Yes, I'm aware that 'might could' is just another way of saying 'maybe')



    > I don't see why it would be much simpler

    From a teacher's point of view, it's simpler to teach a rule that has NO exception, instead of performing a sort of linguistic contorsion that forces you to say: 'OUGHT is a modal, BUT it doesn't work like the other modals.' If you put OUGHT (to do) in the same group as HAVE (to do), BE ABLE (to do), BE ALLOWED (to do), NEED (to do), things are definitely much simpler.


    > It is really true that no two modal sentences can be synonymous if the verb is different? Hmm, possibly, but, then again, possibly not.

    OK, I'd love to have some examples of that. Again, 'You might be right' does not mean the same as 'You may be right'.

  3. #13
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Modals

    Is there any difference between 'I would be grateful if you could/would send...' in letters? As they are formulaic, many will use them synonymously, sometimes just for a change.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Modals

    I'm sure that we can use ought with To in modals.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Modals

    l think lam right

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Modals

    unfurtunately most of the members checked on Should while they supose choosing ought because of " to ", should not followed by to, and that's why.

  7. #17
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Modals

    It's an old exam trick, but it often works.

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