modal verbs

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henz988

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If John leaves place A today, he usually arrives at place B about 4 p.m. next day.
How should I make a speculation about John’s arrival at place B?

1. He will have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
2. He may /might/ could have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
3. He should be at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
4. He could be at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

Please tell me to what extent sentence2 will be used?

Many many thanks in advance.
 

Boadicea

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I would choose 1

He will have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon

It shows that you are 99% sure that this is true.

But if we change the situation, for example:

If John leaves place A today, he arrives at place B about 4 p.m. next day, but he usually stops during the trip to rest and buy presents for the family.

I would use sentence 2:

He may /might/ could have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
 

riverkid

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If John leaves place A today, he usually arrives at place B about 4 p.m. next day.

How should I make a speculation about John’s arrival at place B?


The choice of modal all depends on how certain the speaker is in his/her mind.

1. He will have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.


Since this seems to describe a routine event, and if the speaker is quite certain that John is going directly to B, say on a scheduled Shinkansen, which you can usually set the atomic clock by, then,

John arrives at B at 5 PM tomorrow.

OR

John will arrive at B at 5PM tomorrow.

OR

John is going to arrive at B at 5PM tomorrow.


2.
He may /might/ could have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.



You can't use any of the modal perfects here because John hasn't arrived and the modal perfects discuss a past event.

He may arrive at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

'may' says that there is a 26 - 50% chance that this will happen.

He might arrive at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

'might' says that there is a 1-25% chance that this will happen.

He could arrive at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

'could' says that there is a chance that this will happen but it doesn't specific any particular range of certainty. 'could' is usually used to describe a general possibility rather than a specific one like this example, so it sounds a little strange given the scenario.

But since the speaker knows of how long it usually takes John then these don't seem like natural choices.


3.
He should be at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.



'should describes a range of certainty that goes from 51 to roughly 90%. It occupies the same range as 'probably' and 'likely' but the difference between them it that 'should' can only be used for a possibility where the speaker has some personal knowledge of a situation, as in this case.

If the speaker had no such knowledge but still wanted to state this level of certainty, then only 'probably/likely' could be used.


4.
He could be at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.


I described 'could' above in the may/might portion.


Please tell me to what extent sentence2 will be used?

Many many thanks in advance.

33333333333333
 

riverkid

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CAVEAT on the range for modals

The range I described in the previous posting is obviously not cast in stone. It's a rough approximation that is best used as a relative guide of the position of these modals, one to another.
 

henz988

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You are the man ~ ~ !

Still, I want to make certain whether there’s some difference between BE and CE about the two following sentences:
1. He will have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
2. He may /might/ could have arrived at place B about 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

Or rather,
On the occasion that I can use sentence1 but less certain, can I use 2? I notice you’ve told me 2 is used to discuss a past event, but I just want to be confirmed whether there is a possibility that 2 is “a kind of retrospect” from the point of time “about 5 o’clock” . (It sounds some illogical, though)

Many thanks!
 

riverkid

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Before I go any further, Henz, I'd like you to describe the situation/scenario very clearly as this makes a big difference on what structures we use.
 

henz988

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Thank you for your time, riverkid,

Let's say in this situation:

My mother told me this morning that John, a cousin of mine, will come stay with us during this winter vacation. It's wonderful,for John is a nice and humourous guy.

So I'm looking forward to his coming:

1. Wow, John will have been with me a week later.

Or, to mean more or less the same thing as 1:

2.John may /might /could have been with me a week later, God willing.

Could 2 be possible?
 

riverkid

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Thank you for your time, riverkid,

Let's say in this situation:

My mother told me this morning that John, a cousin of mine, will come stay with us during this winter vacation.

I'm going to assume that the 'winter vacation' is sometime ahead of today, Saturday, January 26, 2008, the time of speaking.

It's wonderful,for John is a nice and humourous guy.

So I'm looking forward to his coming:

1. Wow, John will have been with me a week later.

This is completely unnatural, Henz. This is a simple future.

1. Wow, John will be here [with me] next week.

a week later - We don't use 'later' when we are discussing future time speaking from the moment. We use 'a week from now'; 'next week'. 'later' is used to speak of a time ahead of a future time.

We're going to go swimming 2 hours from now. Later/After that we'll be going to the park.



Or, to mean more or less the same thing as 1:

2.John may /might /could have been with me a week later, God willing.

Could 2 be possible?

Number 2 is impossible. You're talking about a future event, John coming to visit. The three modal perfects talk of potential finished events if something had happened to prevent John's coming.

John may have come if the train line hadn't been destroyed in the derailment.

John might have come if X had/hadn't happened.

John could have come if X had/hadn't happened.
 

henryh

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Hello guys,

I have read your writings and decided to butt in because I'm also interested in Henz's question and I think what he means is the following.

As far as I understand him he wants to know if there's a possibility to use the modal perfect form to express a completed action in the future.

So, I think the question is whether the two sentences below can mean the same and therefore used interchangeably or not.

Perhaps he will have arrived by 5 pm tomorrow.
He may have arrived by 5 pm tomorrow.


Can the second sentence be used to mean the same as the first one or not?

Thanks.
Bye,
Henry
 

riverkid

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Hello guys,

I have read your writings and decided to butt in because I'm also interested in Henz's question and I think what he means is the following.

As far as I understand him he wants to know if there's a possibility to use the modal perfect form to express a completed action in the future.

So, I think the question is whether the two sentences below can mean the same and therefore used interchangeably or not.

Perhaps he will have arrived by 5 pm tomorrow.
He may have arrived by 5 pm tomorrow.


Can the second sentence be used to mean the same as the first one or not?

Thanks.
Bye,
Henry

At forst blush I'd say no, the second sentence cannot be used to mean the same as the first one, Henry. But looking at the 'perhaps', which often, usually [??] carries the same sense of certainty as epistemic 'may', one has to consider that there's a chance.

Still now, I say no, but let me give it some more thought.

Perhaps he will arrive by 5 PM tomorrow. = He may arrive by 5PM tomorrow.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm ...
 

henryh

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Thank you for your answer. It's very interesting. I have tried asking for native speakers' opinion on this at other forums as well and everybody reacts to it differently. Now let me cite an answer from a Canadian speaker at another forum. I'll be back some time later wishing to know your ideas on a similar issue. Bye, for now. Henry



Re: Modal forms

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I think they're all three fine.
Couldn't get any similar examples at [COLOR=blue ! important][FONT=Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][COLOR=blue ! important][FONT=Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Google[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR] though.











Re: Modal forms

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OK, we consulted with friends and they proposed the following:

He may have arrived here by 5 o'clock tomorrow.

He may have been waiting for us an hour by the time our train
finally arrives
.

He may have been waiting an hour by the time our train
finally arrives
.

Thus no one seems really surprised by such constructions.
 

riverkid

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Henry,

Before we get too far out there, you have to remember that this advice is being given in realtion to the scenario/context provided by Henz. Change it a little bit and it may well be that all bets are off.

I checked quickly at that other site but I didn't see that the context had been laid out.
 
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