Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Dany's Avatar
    Dany is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    602
    Post Thanks / Like

    Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    Dear all,

    I need help again in the usage of modal auxiliaries.

    Can or could
    Till now I have chosen it only on a gut level, and I thought that it I was right.
    But now, after I have read about the usage of them, I'm really confused . Please help me.

    I've read the following:
    Can is used when you demonstrate an theoretical possibility.
    Example: It can be very hot in September.

    Could is used when you demonstrate a present possibility.
    Example: It could be very hot in September, so take some summer clothes.

    I have made an exercise about modal auxiliaries. In this exercise I should rephrase the given sentence via modal auxiliary without changing the meaning. Here is one example of the exercise:
    It is often very crowded in discotheques.
    I have rephrased this sentence like this:
    It could be very crowded in discotheques.
    The books' answer is:
    It can be very crowded in discotheques.
    Before I have read the above mentioned explanation, I had also chosen "can". But after reading it, I don't understand why "could" is wrong here.

    Should, ought to or must
    He ought to be at home now.
    Can I use "must" indeed of "ought to" without changing the meaning?
    He should be at home now.
    Can I use "ought to" indeed of "should" without changing the meaning?

    Please give me some explanations of the right answers in refer to my mistakes.
    In this exercise I should rephrase the given sentence via modal auxiliary without changing the meaning.

    1.) I think she will get the job.
    She could get the job.
    She ought to get the job.

    2.) I think he should have written to me, but he didn't. (might)
    He might have written to me.
    He might have written to me!

    3.) I can't remember whether he wrote to me or not.
    He could have written to me.
    He might have written to me.

    4.) I think it unlikely that he has been to England - his English is so bad.
    He couldn't have been to England.
    He can't have been to England.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best regards,
    Dany
    Last edited by Dany; 05-May-2005 at 21:52.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    172
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    I have difficulties with model auxiliary too.
    What troubles me is the possible/probable thing

    The book says may/might/could can all be used to express possibility.
    But does "he may have been involved in that crime" implies possibility? Or is it a guess, which should be regarded as probability?

    Can we say that 'possible' don't have anything to do with 'guess' ?
    Is it true that the sentence "There may be an easier way of solving the problem" means "There definitely is an easier way"?
    Or does it mean that There is a probability, say, 30% or 70%, that a easier way exists. Or..? I'm totally confused

  3. #3
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,961
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    1.) I think she will get the job.
    She could get the job.
    She ought to get the job.
    I'd use 'may well get' to give it a strong possibility. I definitely wouldn't use 'ought to' which suggests that I feel she's right for the job, rather than talking probability.

    2.) I think he should have written to me, but he didn't. (might)
    He might have written to me.
    He might have written to me!
    The second is better because the punctuation ahows that it's a criticism.
    3.) I can't remember whether he wrote to me or not.
    He could have written to me.
    He might have written to me.
    It think both work here, but would probably use 'might'
    4.) I think it unlikely that he has been to England - his English is so bad.
    He couldn't have been to England.
    He can't have been to England.
    The second. The first would refer to a specific time.

  4. #4
    Dany's Avatar
    Dany is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    602
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    Thanks a lot Tdol

  5. #5
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    834
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    4.) I think it unlikely that he has been to England - his English is so bad.
    He couldn't have been to England.
    He can't have been to England.

    The second. The first would refer to a specific time.

    I think "can't have + past participle" is very unlikely to be used in American English. In American, I would expect "could have" to be used in order to express either meaning. If not "could have", then the present perfect would be used. "I don't think he's ever been to England."

    He couldn't have lived in England. His English isn't that good. - I don't think it happened.

    He couldn't have lived in England even if he wanted to. The government wouldn't allow him to leave. - It was impossible. I think it was impossible.

  6. #6
    Dany's Avatar
    Dany is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    602
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    I think "can't have + past participle" is very unlikely to be used in American English.
    Could be, but that was the answer of my book . It is may be in England more used. I don't know it. I only know that the modal auxiliaries makes me infuriatingly

    Can somebody please answer my question about "can" and "could"

  7. #7
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    834
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Few questions about modal auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by Dany
    Could be, but that was the answer of my book . It is may be in England more used. I don't know it. I only know that the modal auxiliaries makes me infuriatingly

    Can somebody please answer my question about "can" and "could"
    I think you should go with what tdol said. I was just pointing out what I consider to be another contrast in BE and AE usage.



Similar Threads

  1. Several Questions
    By Emanuelli in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Jan-2005, 07:18
  2. questions from "Friends" script
    By welldone in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 41
    Last Post: 03-Jul-2004, 20:32
  3. modals
    By hela in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-Apr-2004, 19:45
  4. modal verbs
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22-Oct-2003, 05:28

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •