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    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    #1

    might,could,should and would

    Is it correct that might,could,should and would are the past verbs of may,can,shall and will?If yes what does it mean?

    I am unable to understand clearly.
    Could-I could have done that.(Here in the past I had the capacity to do.)
    Might-He might have done that.(Does it mean the same here also-posiibility.)

    But what about should and would; how can they be the past verbs of shall and will when both are used to express future?)Please give me an explanation.


    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 137
    #2

    Re: might,could,should and would

    When reporting what someone else said: 'I will be late,' he said, becomes 'He said that he would be late'.

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    #3

    Re: might,could,should and would

    Tense and time are not the same in English, especially with the modals, so, for example, we can use past tenses to refer to future time to suggest that there is a reduced possibility of the event occuring.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #4

    Re: might,could,should and would

    One Look quick definition:

    noun: a grammatical category of verbs used to express distinctions of time

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    Compact Oxford

    • noun Grammar a set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time, continuance, or completeness of the action.

    — ORIGIN from Latin tempus ‘time’.

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    M-W

    2 a: a set of inflectional forms of a verb that express distinctions of time b: an inflectional form of a verb expressing a specific time distinction

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    Cambridge Advanced

    tense (VERB FORM)
    noun [C]
    any of the forms of a verb which show the time at which an action happened

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    Cambridge Advanced

    the past tense noun [S]
    used generally to describe grammatical structures that describe actions which have now finished. It is used by some people to refer to the past simple:
    Add -ed to all these verbs to put them in the past tense.
    I think her husband must be dead - she always talks about him in the past tense.

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    Samfat wrote:

    Is it correct that might,could,should and would are the past verbs of may,can,shall and will?If yes what does it mean?

    No, it isn't correct, Samfat. It's highly misleading. Some hundreds of years ago, they were past and present tense forms but in modern English modal verbs are tenseless.

    I am unable to understand clearly.
    Could-I could have done that.(Here in the past I had the capacity to do.)
    Might-He might have done that.(Does it mean the same here also-possibility.)

    In your examples, the modals verbs carry modal meaning, ie. possibility, into the sentences. The past is indicated by the use of "have + PP". 'could' says "it was possible" while 'might' says "there is a miniscule to small chance that ...".

    But what about should and would; how can they be the past verbs of shall and will when both are used to express future?)Please give me an explanation.

    Of course they aren't past verbs. Some of the historical past and historical present modal verbs have retained stronger connections to each other, while some like shall/should & will/would have "drifted further apart, likely simply because of their respective meanings.

    It's much easier to make sense of modal verbs when they are accurately described.

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