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    #1

    modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    ---- When shall we hold the meeting?
    ---- It ____ be better to put it off until next week.
    A. must
    B. could
    C. can
    D. will
    The answer is B

    Is choice B the only answer?


    Many many thanks in advance
    Last edited by henz988; 23-Jul-2008 at 12:56.

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    #2

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    Choice B. could sounds awkward to me in that context. Other posters might not have a problem with it. Let's await their responses. In the meantime, here are two alternatives:

    When shall we hold the meeting?
    It might be better to put it off until next week.

    When shall we hold the meeting?
    It would be better to put it off until next week.


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    #3

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    Quote Originally Posted by henz988 View Post
    ---- When shall we hold the meeting?
    ---- It ____ be better to put it off until next week.
    A. must
    B. could
    C. can
    D. will
    The answer is B

    Is choice B the only answer?


    Many many thanks in advance
    I would choose "will", as I am interpreting the question as calling for a definitive answer. (I don't like any of the other choices.)

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    #4

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    I'd appreciate it very much if you would explain each choice briefly to me---I just want to know what you may feel when you hear the second sentence with the choices respectively, and thank Soup for having given me an expected response to the first sentence.


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    #5

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    I would choose "will", as I am interpreting the question as calling for a definitive answer. (I don't like any of the other choices.)

    The use of 'better' indicates that this is advice or a suggestion, hence, 'will' is incorrect - it must be 'would'.

    I'd appreciate it very much if you would explain each choice briefly to me---I just want to know what you may feel when you hear the second sentence with the choices respectively,
    It ____ be better to put it off until next week.

    If 'must' was used, I would expect the sentence to run, "It must be better than....."
    As the two sentences stand, and using 'must' : "It must be better to put it off until next week.", my reaction as the listener is that I've come into a heated debate part way through. There has been some argument about the best time to hold the meeting. Finally, somebody virtually asks, "So, what are we deciding? When shall we hold the meeting?" The next speaker is only partly responding to him, and partly responding to a previous speaker who suggested something like, 'end of this week' - he comes in and says, "But it must be better to put it off till next week (because, like Paul said, most people won't be finished exams until then)."
    As you can see, that's reading a hell of a lot into it just to make the word 'must' fit the sentence! Not a good choice.

    We can't use 'will' for the reason I gave above - we would use 'would' in that sentence, and 'would' is not a choice.

    That leaves 'can' and 'could', with 'could' being used instead of 'can' to :
    . to indicate possibility :
    • used in making polite requests
    • used in making suggestions
    • used to indicate annoyance because of something that has not been done
    • used to indicate a strong inclination to do something

    The sentence "It ...be better to (do this not that)" is making a suggestion, a recommendation, so 'could' is appropriate.
    Last edited by David L.; 24-Jul-2008 at 03:57.

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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    The use of 'better' indicates that this is advice or a suggestion, hence, 'will' is incorrect - it must be 'would'.

    I don't agree that "better" makes it a suggestion. And in any case
    "will be better" is a strong statement of fact. (at least in the mind of the second speaker)

    Further, the first speaker asks "When shall we hold.....?', not 'When do you think we should hold.....?' So that is why I felt a strong answer is appropriate, and "will" is the only strong choice that fits the sentence.

    Again, to my reading of this short conversation "could" is a very weak, actually a quite meaningless, answer.
    'It could be better to put it off...' of course carries the equal possiblity that it might not be better.
    Any more opinions? Maybe it's a poor test question, especially for lower or middle level students.
    Last edited by 2006; 24-Jul-2008 at 07:36. Reason: correct punctuation

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    #7

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    • When shall we hold the meeting?
    • It ____ be better to put it off until next week.
    A. must
    B. could
    C. can
    D. will
    To me, would works well because (i) the phrase it would be better is a fixed phrase, (ii) its conditional sense, and (iii) the function of the structural subject It:
    Conditional
    It would be better if we put it off ...

    Existential-it
    It would be better to put it off until next week.
    Putting it off until next week would be better.
    Cf. pronominal-it
    It will be better when you see a dentist.
    Your tooth/Life will be better when you see a dentist.
    The key (B. could) is probably a typo and should read B. would.


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    #8

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    We didn't write these test questions. We just have to try to use what's there to clarify some of the original poster's confusion. Of all the poor choices, he/she is the one going into the exam and having to pick one!

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    #9

    Re: modal verbs: must/could/can/will

    Quote Originally Posted by henz988 View Post
    I'd appreciate it very much if you would explain each choice briefly to me---I just want to know what you may feel when you hear the second sentence with the choices respectively, and thank Soup for having given me an expected response to the first sentence.
    Henz988, you're most welcome.

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