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Can has the following meanings:
1) ability, capability,

. I can imagine how angry he is

This meaning may also be expressed by to be able. The phrase
can be used in all tense-forms if necessary.

In the meaning of ability and capability can occurs in all kinds
of sentences.

However, if the time reference is not clear from the context or
if it is necessary to stress that the action refers to the future,
shall/will be able is used

2) possibility due to circumstances,

You can see the forest through the other window.

In this meaning can is found in all kinds of sentences. It is fol-
lowed by the simple infinitive and it refers the action to the
present or future.

3) permission,

You can take my umbrella.

Can in this meaning is found in affirmative sentences, inter-
rogative sentences in which a request is expressed, and in negative
sentences where it expresses prohibition.

4) uncertainty, doubt,

e.g. Can it be true?

In this meaning can is found only in interrogative sentences
(in general questions). Besides, sentences of this kind are often
emotionally coloured and so their application is rather restricted.

5) improbability,
e.g. It can’t be

In this meaning can is found only in negative sentences, which
are often emotionally coloured. Depending on the time reference,
this can is also used with different forms of the infinitive


1) supposition implying uncertainty,

e.g. He may be busy getting ready for his trip.

In the meaning of supposition implying uncertainty, the form
might is also found. It differs from the form may in that it em-
phasizes the idea of uncertainty. It may be followed by the sim-
ple, Continuous or Perfect infinitive.

2) possibility due to circumstances,

e.g. You may order a taxi by telephone.

May in this meaning occurs only in affirmative sentences and
is followed only by the simple infinitive.

The form might is used in past-time contexts in accordance
with the rules of the sequence of tenses.


1) obligation (from the speaker’s point of view),

e.g. You must talk to your daughter about her future.
Must he do it himself?

2) prohibition,

e.g. He must not leave his room for a while.

This meaning is expressed in negative sentences and must is
also followed by the simple infinitive

3)emphatic advice,

e.g. You must come and see us when you’re in London.
You must stop worrying about your son.

This meaning is found in affirmative and negative sentences
and is closely connected with the two above mentioned meanings

4) supposition implying strong probability,

e.g. He must be ill. He looks so pale.


To have to as a modal verb is not a defective verb and
n have all the necessary finite forms as well as the verbals.

e.g. He is an invalid and has to have a nurse.
She knew what she had to do.

The verb to have to serves to express obligation or neces-
sity imposed by circumstances.

e.g. He had to do it.

Did he have to do it?
He did not have to do it.


e.g. We are to meet at six.
We were to meet at six.

§ 97. To be to as a modal verb has the following meanings:

1) a previously arranged plan or obligation resulting from the


e-g. We are to discuss it next time.

2) orders and instructions, often official (frequently in report-
ed speech),

e.g. I just mention it because you said I was to give you all the

details I could

3) something that is destined to happen,

e.g. He was to be my teacher and friend for many years to come.

4) possibility,

e.g. Her father was often to be seen in the bar of the Hotel Metro



1) obligation, which in different contexts may acquire addi-
nal shades of meaning, such as advisability and desirability,

;. You ought to say a word or two about yourself.
2) supposition implying strong probability,

e.g. The new sanatorium ought to be very comfortable.


Shall is still used to express obligation with the second and
third persons, but at present it is not common in this meaning in
spoken English.


1) obligation, which in different contexts may acquire addi-
tional shades of meaning, such as advisability and desirability,

e.g. It’s late. You should go to bed.

2) supposition implying strong probability,
e.g. The film should be very good as it is starring first-class


The verb will1 has the following forms: will — the
present tense and would — the past tense. The latter form is used
in two ways: a) in past-time contexts to express an actual fact and
b) in present-time contexts to express unreality or as a milder and
more polite form of Will.

1) When they express habitual or recurrent actions,

e.g. She will (would) sit for hours under the old oak tree looking
at the beautiful country around her

2) When they express refusal to perform an action,
e.g. The doctor knows I won’t be operated on.

He was wet through, but he wouldn’t change.

3) When they are used with lifeless things to show that a
thing fails to perform its immediate function.

e.g. My fountain pen won’t (wouldn’t) write.
The door won’t (wouldn’t) open.

4) When they are used with the first person to express will, in-
tention or determination,
Will may be used to express supposition with reference to
the present or to the future in combination with the simple infini-
tive, or to the past in combination with the Perfect infinitive. This
meaning is found with the second and third persons.

e.g. This will be the school, I believe.

6) Would may be used rather sarcastically to express that
something was to be expected. It is found in affirmative and neg-
ative sentences.

e.g. “Auntie Meg has been very brave.” “Yes. She would be brave.”


Need expresses necessity. When reference is made to the
present or future it is followed by the simple infinitive. It is used
in negative and interrogative sentences.l

In interrogative sentences need usually implies that there is no
necessity of performing the action.

e.g. You needn’t be afraid of me


1) Dare as a defective verb has two forms which are the present
and the past forms. It means ‘to have the courage or impertinence
to do something.’ Its use is very restricted. In present-day English
it is mainly found in questions beginning with how, which are actu-
ally exclamations, and in negative sentences.

e.g. How dare you say that!
How dare she come here!
How many years is it since we danced together? I daren’t think.

He dared not look at her.

3) Note the colloquial set phrase / dare say.

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