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Thread: Modal verbs

  1. #1
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    Default Modal verbs

    Hello! I have some questions on modal verbs. Firstly I'd like to know whether these sentence contain any mistake connected with modal verbs.

    The job interview was a disaster; I could only answer half the questions.
    I heard your sales results were excellent. May you get a bonus this year?
    I could leave work early yesterday - my boss gave me permission.

    Do you know if we must / have to have visas for the Caribbean?

    Which is the best alternative?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Hello! I have some questions on modal verbs. Firstly I'd like to know whether these sentence contain any mistake connected with modal verbs.

    The job interview was a disaster; I could was able to only answer only half the questions.
    I heard your sales results were excellent. MayWill you get a bonus this year?
    I could was able to leave work early yesterday - my boss gave me permission.

    Do you know if we must / have to have visas for the Caribbean?

    Which is the best alternative?

    Thank you in advance!

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by unregistered View Post
    hello! I have some questions on modal verbs. Firstly i'd like to know whether these sentence contain any mistake connected with modal verbs.

    The job interview was a disaster; i could only answer half the questions.
    this is ok

    do you know if we must / have to have visas for the caribbean?

    Which is the best alternative?
    you can use either.

    thank you in advance!
    r.

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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    The job interview was a disaster; I could only answer half the questions.
    There is a difference between the 'rules' in grammar texts, and colloquial usage.
    Had you phrased it:
    The job interview was a disaster. I couldn't answer half the questions.
    - the grammarians would be giving you the thumbs up.
    The 'rule' is: 'could' should not be used with a single instance of an event/actuality in the past.

    [COLOR="Red"]I heard your sales results were excellent. May you get a bonus this year?
    I need to think about that one, in terms of a possible phrasing using 'might'. I know that 'may' cannot be used. Perhaps something along the lines, "Will you be getting a bonus this year?"

    I could leave work early yesterday - my boss gave me permission.

    This is really debatable! - and it intrigued me. I've sent off an email about it to an authoritative linguist in Australia about that one!! He's really hot when it comes to having a deeper understanding of modals.

    Do you know if we must / have to have visas for the Caribbean?
    Do you know if we have to have visas for the Caribbean?
    This is the correct and only correct form for this sentence.
    Last edited by David L.; 21-May-2009 at 13:14.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    I could leave work early yesterday - my boss gave me permission.
    The only possible interpretation of this sentence, with the following sentence mentioning permission, is as follows:
    I was allowed to leave work early.

    No doubt, there'd be some more to think of and talk about without that sentence following.

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    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    The job interview was a disaster; i could only answer half the questions.

    You use either COULD or WAS/WERE ABLE TO to describe a general ability in the past. However, you must use WAS/WERE ABLE TO to describe a special achievement or a single event in the past.


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    chris556 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    I'm a native English speaker, and "I could only answer half the questions" is perfectly acceptable, AND grammatical.

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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by chris556 View Post
    I'm a native English speaker, and "I could only answer half the questions" is perfectly acceptable, AND grammatical.
    ENGLISH PAGE - Could

    could
    past ability
    I could run ten miles in my twenties.

    I could speak Chinese when I was a kid.

    "Could" cannot be used in positive sentences in which you describe a momentary or one-time ability.


    Yesterday, I could lift the couch by myself. Not Correct

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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post

    Do you know if we must / have to have visas for the Caribbean?
    Both are okay.
    "You must have a permit to enter the national park." -- necessity

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    Default Re: Modal verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by chris556 View Post
    I'm a native English speaker, and "I could only answer half the questions" is perfectly acceptable, AND grammatical.
    And you should be happy with it, cuz I could only answer half the questions is perfectly correct in terms of grammar.

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