MODAL VERBS: GENERAL NOTION
There is a group of verbs, which are called modal verbs or modal auxiliaries. They are used to express speakers' judgment, attitude or interpretation of what they are speaking. Modal verbs can perform different communicative functions. They can express requests, offers, advice, suggestions, invitations, asking for or granting permission, commands, prohibitions, etc. They can also present a situation as possible, probable, obvious, doubtful, necessary, unnecessary, desirable, etc.
There are pure modal verbs, which can express only modal meanings -can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, ought, will, would. There are also semi-modal verbs and phrases, which can also function as notional verbs -have to, be to, be able to, need, dare.
Pure modal verbs have the following morphological characteristics: l)They don't take the ending '-s' for the 3d person singular. Present Simple;
2) They are followed by the bare infinitive of the notional verb, with the exception of 'ought';
3) The negative form is built by adding the negative particle 'not' to the modal verb;
4) Modal verbs are inverted with the subjects to form questions;
5) Only the modal verbs can and may have past forms (could and might respectively), while the other modal verbs have no past forms.
Semi-modal verbs have, be and the phrase be able have the same paradigm as notional verbs and they are followed by an infinitive with the particle 'to'. The verbs need and dare combine the morphological features both of modal verbs and those of the notional verbs.
The modal verb can has two forms"- can for the present and could for the past.
The modal verb can is used to express the following meanings.
1. It is used to denote physical or mental ability of the subject of the sentence to perform the action denoted by the notional verb. The form could is used to express ability in the past:
We can read this text, as it isn't difficult. We could read English books last year.
The modal phrase be able to is used to supply the missing tense forms or the infinitive:
We have been able to come in time because we took a bus.
We'll be able to help you as soon as we finish this exercise.
I'd like to be able to help you.
The phrase be able to differs from the verb can in its meaning. The verb can expresses permanent ability, while be able to combines ideas of ability and achievement; it also expresses ability due to circumstances:
We could do it, but didn’t want to. We were able to do it, because you helped us.
The phrase 'used to be able to do something' means 'could before but can no longer':
When a boy, he used to be able to run faster than anybody. The phrase able to and the verb manage can be used when speaking about one specific action in the past:
He was able (managed) to come yesterday because he was free.
The form 'could + indefinite infinitive' is used to express hypothetical ability in the present or future. The form 'could + perfect infinitive' is used to express hypothetical ability in the past:
/ could come earlier if there were a train in the morning. He could have written to you if he had known your address.
2. The verb can is used to denote possibility: a)possibility due to circumstances:
His pictures cannot be exhibited here, as they are too extravagant. b) possibility due to the existing laws, rules, regulations:
You can borrow books from the library if you need them. c) hypothetical possibility (the form could is used, while the time reference is expressed by the form of the infinitive of the notional verb):
You could still see them here walking hand in hand. You could have heard her singing there.
3. The verb can is used when asking for permission, granting or denying permission:
- asking for permission: Can I pass here?
- granting permission: Yes, you can. Everybody goes this way.
- denying permission: No, you can't. The path is to your left.
4. The negative form of can is used to express prohibition, which is determined by laws, situation or natural state of things:
You cannot cross the street when the street light is red.
5. Both can and could are used to express request, could being more polite:
Can you help me now? Could you do me a favor?
6. Could is used to express reproach for failing to do something that is expected. 'Could + indefinite infinitive' is used if reproach refers to the present situation, 'could + perfect infinitive' is used to express reproach for a past situation:
You could help me. You certainly could have told me about it.
7. Both can and could are used to express supposition (speculation) implying doubt and incredulity in interrogative sentences or surprise in
special questions and almost assurance in negative statements, indefinite and non-perfect continuous infinitives of the notional verb refer the action denoted by this verb to the present or future, while perfect forms of the infinitive refer the action denoted by the notional verb to the past:
Can you really believe it? How could you believe it? Could she have really told him the details ? She cannot be working now. It's too late. He couldn’t have done it so quickly. It's absolutely impossible. When the action denoted by the notional verb refers to the present, we often use the continuous infinitive to avoid ambiguity:
She can't work now.
(I am sure that she doesn't work now. She is not able to work now.) She can't be working now. (1 am sure she doesn't work now.)
As the negative form of the infinitive is not used in sentences expressing doubt and incredulity, other ways expressing negation are implied. We can use phrases can it be that and it cannot be that or the verb fail followed by the indefinite infinitive of the notional verb:
Can it be that he doesn't know the facts yet?
It cannot be that she didn 't want to see you.
Can he fail to understand what I mean?
She couldn't have failed to pass the test.
You can also express negation lexically:
Can she forget it (fail to remember)? She couldn 4 have refused (not wanted) to help you. Can you know nothing (not know anything) about it?
The modal verb may has two-forms may for the present and might for
The modal verb may is used to express the following meanings.
I. It is used to express formal permission when a speaker is asking for, granting or denying permission: -asking for permission:
May I use the phone here?
Yes, you may, if it is an emergency. -denying permission (prohibition):
No, you may not. You may not use the telephone in my office. The form might is used to express permission in clauses following the rule of the sequence of tenses:
The conductor said we might take the dog along.
Permission in the past is expressed by the verbs allow, permit and let:
The teacher allowed us to use dictionaries. He didn't let us enter.
2. May expresses polite request in interrogative sentences if the subject is the personal pronoun 1st person:
May I trouble you? May I sit here for a while?
3. May expresses an offer in interrogative sentences if the subject is the personal pronoun ls person:
May I help you ?
4. May is used to express possibility:
a)due to circumstances (absence of obstacles to the action):
It isn`t late and he may still come. The form might is used according to the rule of the sequence offenses:
/ thought he might still come.
b)hypothetical possibility is expressed by the form might and the form of the infinitive of the notional verb shows the time reference, i.e. whether it refers to the present or to the past:
If It were not so late he might come. If it hadn't rained yesterday, we might have gone out of town.
5. The form might is used to express disapproval;
a)'might + indefinite infinitive' expresses a request made in the tone of disapproval:
You might help me to carry this bag. Don’t you see it's heavy?
b)'might + perfect infinitive' expresses reproach for failing to do what was in one's power:
He might have helped you; he saw that you needed help.
6. Both may and might are used in statements to express the meaning of supposition (speculation) implying doubt or uncertainty. Might means the higher degree of doubt. The form of the infinitive of the notional verb shows the time reference:
He may (might) come in the evening. He usually does. He might be happy, but he doesn 't look it.
7. Phrases 'may as well', 'might as well' are used to show that you will do something you do not really want to do:
The modal verb must has only one form that refers to the present. The verbs have, be, and be obliged are used to supply the missing forms: We'll have to look through these papers again. They had to admit the truth.
We are to meet tomorrow. She was obliged to do it this way. The modal verb must has the following meanings.
1. It is used to express obligation, necessity, and duty implying no
freedom of choice. When it expresses this meaning, it is followed by the indefinite infinitive only:
Children must obey their parents,
The verb have to is more commonly used to express necessity and obligation arising out of circumstances, while must expresses obligation imposed by the speaker:
/ have to hurry, or I'll be late.
You must hurry. I'm not going to wait for you forever. The verb must is replaced by the verb have to in the indirect speech according to the rule of the sequence of tenses:
He said we had to go immediately.
In public notices must expresses an obligation imposed by some authorities:
Passengers must cross the railway line by the footbridge. The verb must denotes necessity arising out of the nature and consequently inevitable. The same meaning can be also expressed by the verb be to:
Bad seeds must produce bad corn.
The absence of obligation or necessity is expressed by the negative form of the verbs need, have to and have got to:
You needn 't say it again. We don't have to write this essay. He hasn 't got to
2. The verb must is used to express commands, orders, urgent and emphatic requests. It is followed by the indefinite infinitive only and doesn't change according to the rule of the sequence of tenses:
You must leave the room at once.
You must visit us as soon as possible.
He said we must leave the room at once.
3. The negative form of must is used to express prohibition that is rather a command or an order not to do something. The indefinite infinitive of the notional verb is used:
Visitors must not feed animals at the zoo. You must not discuss this question now.
4. The verb must is used in affirmative statements to express supposition (speculation), implying strong probability, bordering n assurance or being almost a conviction. As the modal verb must has only one form, the form of the infinitive of the notional verb expresses the time reference. Indefinite and non-perfect continuous infinitives refer the action of the notional verbs to the present, while perfect infinitives refer the action of the notional verb to the past:
You must know her as she was in your group. They must be waiting for us.
They must have heard the news already.
When the action expressed by the notional verb refers to the present we often use the continuous infinitive to avoid ambiguity:
He must work hard. He must be working hard.
We don't use the negative form of the infinitive after the verb must to express supposition. Modal words and phrases are used instead:
He is not likely to come today. Probably, he didn`t know about your arrival.
The verb must is not used to express supposition about future actions, but modal words and phrases are:
He will evidently come at nine. It's likely to rain tonight.
5. The phrase 'if you must' is used when you allow something you don't approve of:
If you must talk, do it outside please.
Word order in English is more important than it is in Russian. The place of a word in a sentence shows its relation to other words. Word order in English is fixed. Every position in a sentence has a certain functional significance. Thus the place of a noun before a finite verb shows that the noun is the subject while the place of a noun after a verb shows that it is an object. The word order is the only means of distinguishing between a subject and a direct object expressed by a noun. That's why a subject and a direct object cannot exchange places without the change of meaning.
Compare the following Russian and English sentences with different word
order:(R) Коты едят мышей. Мышей едят коты.- The meaning of
sentences (1) and (2) is the same.
(E) Cats eat mice. Mice eat cats. - The change of the subject and object positions determines the change of meaning of the whole sentence. So the word order in an English declarative sentence is fixed and direct.
In most cases it is as follows:
Attributes can be in pre-position and in post-position to the modified words. In the sentence they can modify subject, object and predicative.
Another day of waiting was over.
She will give you the further instructions.
She was a lovely child of five or six.
The position of an adverbial modifier is relatively free. It can occupy the following positions in a sentence:
1) Initial position ( at the beginning of a sentence)
Sometimes it gets really hot here.
2) Interposition (between the subject and the predicate or between the auxiliary and the notional verb).
He often comes to this place. He has never said anything of the kind.
3) Post position (immediately after the finite verb)
She won't come here with us.
4) Final position ( at the end of the sentence)
She is making this report tomorrow.
If there are several adverbial modifiers, they stand in the following order: a) after the verbs of motion:
Adv. Modifier of
Modifier of Place
b) after other verbs
Adv. Modifier of Manner
Adv. Modifier of Place
Adv. Modifier of Time
THE PRINCIPAL PARTS OF THE SENTENCE THE SUBJECT
The subject is the principal- part of я two-memhet-sentefice which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the predicate is grammatically dependent, i.e. in most cases it agrees with the subject in number and person. The subject can denote a living being, a lifeless thing or an idea. It can be expressed in the following way:
MEANS OF EXPRESSING THE SUBJECT
PARTS OF SPEECH
The waiter brought what we ordered.
PRONOUN (personal, possessive, demonstrative, defining, indefinite, negative, interrogative)
They invited you to the party, didn't they? His dog is in the yard and ours is there too. What is this0 Everybody already knows about his arrival. Somebody has broken the news to the papers. Nobody will mention it. Who has torn this book?
The poor were under oppression
(сШШ and огЖа1)
Two are company and three are not. The second will be yours.
"On" is a preposition. This "Why, Tom?" makes me furious.
GROUP OF WORDS as
one part of sentence
The needle and thread is lost.
INFINITIVE PHRASE INFINITIVE CONSTRUCTION
To live is to work. To be here is dangerous. For him to come was impossible.
GERUND GERUND1AL PHRASE GERUNDIAL CONSTRUCTION
Reading is a good hobby. Reading books in the original is difficult. Tom 's coming is out of the question
The wounded were taken good care of.
The subject is called compound when it consists of two components combined by the conjunction and
The manager and the staff are at the meeting now.
It AS THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE
When the pronoun it is used as the subject of a sentence and represents a living being or a thing, it is a notional subject. Sometimes, however, it doesn't represent any living being or thing and performs a purely grammatical function. In this case it is a formal subject.
When it is a notional subject the pronoun it has the following meanings:
1) // stands for a definite thing or some abstract idea - the personal it.
The door opened. It was opened by a young girl.
2) It points out some person or thing expressed by a predicative noun, or it refers to the thought contained in a preceding statement, thus having a demonstrative meaning - the demonstrative it.
It is John. It was a large room with a great window.
In the last two cases it is close to this and is usually translated into Russian by это.
Sometimes the pronoun it is a formal subject, i.e. it does not represent any person or thing.
Here we must distinguish:
1) the impersonal it, 2) the introductory or anticipatory it and 3) the emphatic it.
1) The impersonal it is used:
• to denote the state of the weather or the state which characterizes the environment. In such sentences the predicate is either a simple one, expressed by a verb denoting the state of the weather, or a compound nominal one, with an adjective as predicative.
It often rains in autumn. It is often cold in winter.
• to denote time and distance.
It is five minutes past six. How far is it from your office to the bank?
NOTE: Sentences with the impersonal it as subject very often correspond to Russian impersonal one-member sentences: It is late - Поздно.
The following sentences, however, correspond to Russian two-member personal sentences: It is snowing. —Идет снег.
2) The introductory or anticipatory it introduces the real subject.
// was curious to observe that child.
3) The emphatic it is used for emphasis.
It was he who broughtimek^eorgetq Amelia.
of the sentence, which expresses
an action, state, or quality of the person or thing denoted by the subject. It is grammatically dependent upon the subject.
Note: This definition does not cover sentences with the formal // as the subject. In these sentences the predicate expresses the state of weather, time or distance, and the subject only makes the sentence structurally complete.
As a rule the predicate contains a finite verb form, which may express tense, voice, mood, aspect and sometimes person and number. According to the structure and the meaning of the predicate we distinguish two main types: the simple predicate and the compound predicate.
THE COMPOUND PREDICATE
The compound predicate consists of two parts: a) a finite verb and b) some other part of speech: a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, a verbal (a participle, a gerund, an infinitive). The second component is the significant part of the predicate that refers to the state or the action performed by the subject.
The first part expresses the verbal categories of person, number, tense, aspect, mood and voice; besides_it_can_have a certain lexical meaning of its own. The compound predicate can be nominal and verbal------- ч
THE COMPOUND NOMINAL PREDICATE
The compound nominal predicate denotes the state or quality of the person or thing expressed by the subject, or the class of persons or things to which this person or thing belongs. The compound nominal predicate consists of a link verb and a predicative.
THE LINK VERB expresses the verbal categories of person, number, tense, aspect, mood, sometimes voice. The following are the most common link verbs: be, appear, get, grow, continue, feel, keep, look, turn, hold, prove, turn out, rank, remain, run, seem, to smell, taste, fall, stand, go, work.
His wife sighed and remained silent.
Many of these verbs can be used both as verbs of complete predication fully preserving their concrete meaning and as link verbs.
The tree grew large. —Дерево выросло большим.
It grew dark. — Стемнело.
There are some verbs which though fully preserving their concrete meaning perform the function of link verbs: they are used with a predicative and form a compound nominal predicate: lie, sit, die, marry, return, leave, come, stand, fall, go, etc.
The poor woman sat amazed.
Sometimes the predicative does not immediately follow these verbs but is separated from them by an adverbial modifier.
One evening she came home irritated.
According to their meaning link verbs can be divided into two large groups: link verbs of being and remaining and link verbs of becoming.
1) Link verbs of being and remaining describe some permanent quality of the subject or the state or quality that it has at a certain time. The following link verbs belong to this group: be, remain, keep, continue, look, smell, stand, sit, lie, shine, seem, prove, appear, etc.
2) Link verbs of becoming show the change of quality or state of the subject; they are become, get, grow, come, go, leave, run, turn, make, etc.
THE PREDICATIVE is a significant part of the compound nominal predicate and denotes the state or quality of the person or thing expressed by the subject, or the class of persons or things to which this person or thing belongs It can be expressed by:
1. A noun in the common case, occasionally by the noun in the genitive case:
She is a pretty child. The book is my sister's.
2. An adjective:
He is awfully dear and unselfish.
Very often the predicative after the verbs be, look, feel sound, smell, taste expressed by an adjective in English doesn't correspond to an adjective in Russian. It often corresponds to an adverb, serving as an adverbial modifier.
The dinner smells delicious. - Обед пахнет восхитительно. Sentences describing weather correspond to Russian one-member sentences.
It's dark. - Темно. It's hot. ~ Жарко.
3. A pronoun - personal, possessive, negative, interrogative, reflexive:
It was he. The privilege was his. Oh, she is just nobody. What is your idea? She was herself again.
4. A word of the category of state:
But I 'm afraid I can't keep the customer so long.
5. A numeral, cardinal or ordinal:
I'm only 16. Mrs. Snow was the first to break the astonished silence.
6. A prepositional phrase:
These things were outside her experience. 1. An infinitive, infinitive phrase or infinitive construction:
His only wish was to win.
Jane's first thought was to leave immediately.
It is for you to decide.
8. A gerund, gerundial phrase or gerundial construction:
My favourite sport is swimming.
Her duty is meeting people at the reception.
The greatest problem was our getting their in time.
9. Participle 1 or Participle II:
Her behaviour is irritating. He was surprised at the sound of his own voice.
10. An adverb:
It was enough.
THE SIMPLE PREDICATE
The simple verbal predicate is expressed by a finite verb in a simple or compound tense form. It generally denotes an action but sometimes it denotes a state, which is represented as an action.
He arrived at the lab next morning full of excitement She hates parties.
There is a special kind of predicate expressed by a phraseological unit such as get rid, get hold, take care, take part, take place, make fun, make up one's mind, change one's mind, pay attention, lose sight, have a wash, give a push, etc.
When we clear the forests we'll get rid of such inconveniences.
The characteristic feature of this predicate is that the first component, i.e. the finite verb, has lost its concrete meaning to a great extent and forms one unit with the noun, consequently the noun cannot be treated as an object to the verb. This can also be easily proved by the impossibility of putting a question to the second component.
Compare: My friend gave me an interesting book to read. The man gave a violent start.
We shall treat this kind of predicate as a subdivision of the simple predicate - a phraseological predicate.
We distinguish 2 types of phraseological predicates:
1) Word combinations of the following type: have a smoke, have a swim, have a run, give a laugh, give a push, take a look, make a move, etc. These combinations consist of a finite verb, which has to a great extent lost its concrete meaning and a noun formed from a verb and mostly used with the indefinite article.
The predicate denotes a momentary action. In Russian this shade of meaning is rendered by different prefixes and suffixes which express a momentary action.
He had a smoke. - Он покурил. He gave a cry. - Он вскрикнул. This type of phraseological predicate is characteristic of colloquial speech.
2) Word combinations of the following type: get rid of, get hold, make use, take care, lose sight, make fun, pay attention, make up one's mind, change one's mind, take part, etc.
The second component of these combinations is in most cases an abstract noun used without any article. _______ —"—■—«._,
Then he caught his breath, suddenly reminded of something else.
THE COMPOUND VERBAL PREDICATE
The compound verbal predicate can be divided into two types according to the meaning of the finite verb:
1) The compound verbal modal predicate,
2) The compound verbal aspect predicate. ^
THE COMPOUND VERBAL MODAL PREDICATE
The compound verbal modal predicate shows whether the action expressed by a non-finite form of the verb is considered as possible, impossible, obligatory, necessary, desirable etc. These meanings are expressed by the first component of the predicate.
The compound verbal modal predicate may consist of the following components:
1. A modal verb lean, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would, ought/ and an infinitive.
You can prove everything.
2. A semi-modal verb I dare, need, be, have/ and an infinitive.
I have to work for my living.
3 A modal expression / be able to, be obliged to, be bound, be willing, be anxious, be going/ and an infinitive.
/ am going to leave Paris.
4. A verb with a modal meaning /hope, expect, intend, endeavour, long, wish, want, desire, feel/ and an infinitive or a gerund.
He wanted to throw himself into the river. I feel like telling him everything.
THE COMPOUND VERBAL ASPECT PREDICATE
The compound verbal aspect predicate expresses the beginning, repetition, duration, or cessation of the action, expressed by the non-finite form of the verb - a gerund or an infinitive. It consists of such verbs as begin, start, commence, fall, set about, go on, keep on, proceed, continue, stop, give up, finish, cease, come and an infinitive or a gerund.
In the morning it began to rain again. He started writing his composition a week ago. At last I came to realize the problem facing me.
After the verbs go on, keep on, stop, give up, finish only the gerund is used as a part of a compound verbal predicate, while the infinitive performs a different syntactic function.
He went on talking without looking at us. She cleaned the hall and went on to clean the kitchen. - Object
They stopped talking and looked at us. Suddenly they stopped to look at the view. - Adverbial modifier of purpose.
Here also belong phrases would and used + Infinitive, which denote a repeated action in the past.
When he was a student he used to come to our cafe rather often. He would take a cup of coffee and sit at that table near the window.
MIXED TYPES OF PREDICATE
Such predicates contain several components.
1. The compound modal nominal predicate.
He wanted to be the next heir himself.
2. The compound aspect nominal predicate.
/ began to feel rather hungry
3. The compound modal aspect predicate
You ought to stop doing this.
4. The compound modal aspect nominal predicate
He must have begun to feel sorry for that.
MEANS OF EXPRESSING THE PREDICATE
WAYS OF EXPRESSION
1) a finite verb in a simple or
He works a lot.
a compound tense form
He has been working at
the project since summer.
1) word combinations: have
a smoke, have a swim, have
a run, give a laugh, give a
She 41 have a swim with
push take a look, make a
2) a phraseological unit:
Soon we lost sight of the
get rid, get hold, take care,
pay attention, lose sight,
have a wash, give a push
The compound nominal predicate
1) link verbs of being and remaining: be, remain, keep, continue, look, smell, stand, sit, lie, shine, seem, prove, appear, etc. + predicative 2) link verbs of becoming: become, get, grow, come, go, leave, run, turn, make, etc. + predicative
The girl looks really seek. It grows dark early now.
The compound verbal modal predicate
1. A modal verb + an infinitive 2. A semi-modal verb + an infinitive 3. A modal expression + an infinitive 4. A verb with a modal meaning + an infinitive or a gerund
They can help you.
You are to come tomorrow. She isn't able to talk now.
We want to see her again.
The compound verbal aspect predicate
A verb (to begin, to start, to commence, to fall, to set about, to go on, to keep on, to proceed, to continue, to stop, to give up, to finish, to cease, to come, used to, would+ Inf) + an infinitive or a gerund.
He began working early yesterday. He began to work early They stopped talking at once. They used to come here rather often.
MIXED TYPES OF PREDICATES
The compound modal nominal predicate
3 elements: 1 )a modal verb (expression) 2) a link verb 3) a predicative
You must be tired.
The compound aspect nominal predicate
3 elements 1) an aspect verb 2) a link verb 3) a predicative
She began to feel excited.
The compound modal aspect
3 elements 1) a modal verb 2) an aspect verb
You should start thinking
about such things.
3) an infinitive or a gerund
1) a modal verb
2) an aspect verb
Mary must stop being a
3) a link verb
4) a predicative
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