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Thread: More Modals?

  1. #1
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    More Modals?

    Hey, all!

    I was recently home and, you know, conversing in English when I realized something: I use 'gotta' as a modal verb.

    My family, I can assure you, wasn't ready to discuss my discovery: a modal verb that I'd never taught my students. The rest of the time home, I tried to be alert for more slang that worked like a modal verb, but, well. . . I can't find any. I wondered if anybody here has some ideas? It could be a cool way to wind up a lesson on a slow day, ending with "Well, I guess we gotta go. . ."

    Alright. Thanks for your time,
    -Toby

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    Re: More Modals?

    Call me old-fashioned, Toby, but I reckon an English teacher should stick to standard English when talking to students.

    They'll pick up enough slang from their peers.

    Rover

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    Re: More Modals?

    Rover:

    For lower level students, I agree. But the students I had in mind speak really good standard English (they're all engineers) and they want to be more confident in conversation. I figure I have to expose them to stuff like these before they hit on it, feel stupid, and blame me for not doing my job.

    I think that 'gotta' could almost be considered 'standard slang' (like other words I teach: doohickey, thingamajig, jerk, 'my in-laws,' and 'wheels' or 'ride' for car) and students should be at least exposed to it, given my interpretation of what it means and what I think about the speaker when I hear it (as well as warned that this is just my 'language feeling') and allowed to decide if it's the kind of thing they want in their active vocabulary or not.

    -Toby

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: More Modals?

    Many people say 'we gotta go', but does that make it a modal? I'd start worrying if you find yourself saying 'we gottan't to go'.

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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Many people say 'we gotta go', but does that make it a modal? I'd start worrying if you find yourself saying 'we gottan't to go'.
    I think it does make it a modal verb. Just as 'wanna' is a modal in "I wanna go to Macdonalds", but not in "I wanna hamster."

    I wouldn't teach it though.

    PS: Some more non-standard modals: gonna, woulda, shoulda, coulda, would of, should of, could of ...
    Last edited by Raymott; 27-Jul-2010 at 13:08.

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    Re: More Modals?

    You know, I already teach 'gonna' as a reduction (is that the right word?) of the so-called 'going to future.' Because I don't really use 'should of,' 'would of' and 'could of,' I also don't teach the gonna, woulda, coulda. But I think I'll include them in my non-standard modals discussion.

    Do we use any others? I mean, non-standard modals?
    -Toby

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    Re: More Modals?

    Is "woulda" a contracted form of "would of"? I though it was a contracted form of "would have"... What does "would of" mean? I have never heard it.

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    Re: More Modals?

    It means the same thing. So does 'I should of gone to the doctor.' I don't like it, because I associate it with less intelligent Americans. (And I like to think I'm one of the more intelligent ones.) So, I don't normally teach it, but I think maybe my students should hear it at least once.

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    Re: More Modals?

    "Gotta" is a reduction of "have got to," which is not a true modal, but rather a modal-like expression. (The only difference is that you conjugate it; I have got to, but he has got to--though when we reduce it to "gotta," I guess we "don't gotta" change it anymore!)

    "Should of" is incorrect; it's a mishearing of "should have." The contracted form is "should've," which is audibly indistinguishable from the words "should of." Hence the confusion, even among native speakers.

    I'm all in favor of teaching reductions and contractions to students. They're not at all the same as "slang;" they're important features of native speaker pronunciation.

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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heterological View Post
    I'm all in favor of teaching reductions and contractions to students. They're not at all the same as "slang;" they're important features of native speaker pronunciation.
    I don't see the point of teaching 'gotta'. It's simply a non-standard pronunciation, and should be spelled "got to". We don't normally make phonetic spellings of all non-standard pronunciations.
    (Same for 'wanna' and 'gonna' and 'oughta', which are spelled 'want to', 'going to' and 'ought to' respectively.)

    Do British English teachers teach Scottish variations like 'canna', and do they cover all regional accents with special phonetic spellings?

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