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Modal Auxiliaries and Related Phrasal Forms

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Asharany Inovejas

on 19 January 2014

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Transcript of Modal Auxiliaries and Related Phrasal Forms


Modal Phrasal Modal

Can, could be able to
Will, shall be going to, be about to
Must have to, have got to
Should, ought to be to, be supposed to
Would (past habit) used to
May, might be allowed to, be permitted to

Modal Auxiliaries and Related Phrasal Forms
Best examples:

A. Direct speech Indirect (i.e Reported) speech
Daniel: I can go. Daniel said that he could go.
Adan: I will leave. Adan said he would leave.
Maria: Shall I stay? Maria asked if she should stay.

B. Express abilities in the remote past.

“I can’t speak French now, but I could when I was a child.”

COULD = “is this possible”
WOULD = willingness of the addressee.
Ex. Could (*can) I talk to you later?
Would (*will) you open the door?
Request for permission
The higher in authority, the more likely to use may.
Ex. You may leave now.
Modals are used for request and phrasal modals are used to ask literal question.
Will/would you open the door?
Are you going to open the door?
Using Negative not
It amplifies and strengthens the request.
Ex. Won’t you please get into the pool? (Please do get in.)
Couldn’t I please to go to party? (I want to go. Please let me.)

Thank You for Listening!


Raymart Jake Jamito and
Aivy Inovejas

The Form of Modals
Formal Properties

Modals (may, can, shall, will, etc.)
Can vs. be able to
Can you do it? Are you able to do it?
1. be able to is more formal than can
Ex. –after other modals
Will you be able to join us?
¬-- after perfect forms
I’ve been able to play for a long time.
-- in gerunds, participles, and infinitives:
Being able to swim is a requirement here.
I’d like to be able to swim.
2. be able to are preferred in statements which convey special effort or frustration
Ex. After waiting for an hour, I was finally able to see the doctor.
Better than I could finally see the doctor.

3. There is asymmetry in can/could versus is able to/was able to

Potential Realization
1. “Ability” for animate objects
I can speak Filipino.
Superman is able to leap tall buildings with a bound.
2. “Potentiality” for inanimate subjects:
This business can be organized.
The car is able to go faster with this fuel.
Desire – would like
Sarah would like to travel around the world.
Ralph would like an apple.
Offer / invitation – would you like
Would you like something to drink?
Preference – would rather; would prefer
Paul would rather study languages than Mathematics.

Conflicts: Reasons why we don’t consider “present tense modals” and “past tense modals”
1. Historically present tense modals can and will resists when being used in past time frames. (Does not always work)
Ex. *He can leave yesterday. ----------- *He could leave yesterday.
2. Historically past tense often occur with reference to present time.
Ex. Would/Could you pass me the salt?
3. The so-called present tense modals, in many cases, refer to present or future.
Ex. That could be Sarah. (Present meaning)
You should see a doctor. (Future meaning)

3. Modals are tense less auxiliaries. However, we acknowledge that modals do derive historically from ordinary verb forms inflected for either present or past tense because this historically-based relationship still has some semantic implications.

Historical present tense Historical past tense
Can could
Will would
May might
Shall should
- must (had to)

1. Modals do not inflect subject-verb agreement (not like auxiliary verbs have, be, do and ordinary verbs).

*He cans play tennis.

2. Modals directly precedes a verb.

Modal + verb Verb + verb

I can go. I want to go.
*I can to go. *I want go.

2. All phrasal modals require that a to infinitive precede the main verb.
3. Phrasal modals differ from lexical verbs where speech are assimilated.
Ex. Gotta, gonna, hasta, hafta, etc.
4. Restriction:
a. *We can should study hard. d. I might be able to go there.
b. He will have to improve his work. e. He is going to have to improve his pronunciation
c. *I am able to must do the job.

In example a. modal + modal cannot occur
c. phrasal modal + modal cannot occur

5. we still lack a precise description of the combinations of modals and phrasal modals that can occur versus those that cannot.

6. Phrasal modal takes perfect and progressive aspect
Ex. I’m having to work harder to lose weight now.
Lately he’s been able to run the mile in five minutes.

7. Phrasal modal have a variety of internal structures.
Ex. I am able to go there. (pm + verb [infinitive])
I am used to going there. (be + adj. + prep + verb [gerund])
*I am used to go there.

Tense Modal
Jen is a teacher. Jen may be a teacher.
Jen was a teacher. Jen may have been a teacher.

We use modal:
To give a proposition showing politeness or indirectness
To give a degree of probability making request, granting permission
To express one’s attitudes giving advice

Thus in 2 ways: Logical Probability and Social Interaction


Modals form a semantic opposition with ordinary tensed verb forms.
When we use modals, we interject our own perspective and view a proposition more subjectively than when they simply used past or present tense.

Adjectives and adverbs can be used to paraphrase the modals for logical uses.
Must ---necessarily, very certain(ly)
Will ---fairly certain(ly)
Should ---probably, probable, likely
May ---perhaps, maybe, quite,
Could/might ---possible
* must cannot be use
Question: What did the weatherman say?

1. Shall is usually found in requests for a decision or for advice from the addressee.
Ex. Shall I call her?
Let’s go, shall we?

2. Shall is for invitation. In such cases, should cannot be substituted to shall. It changes the meaning.
Ex. Shall we dance? = (invitation)
Should we dance? = (do we need to dance? Is it advisable?)

3. Shall is for formal commands.
Ex. You shall report promptly after 0500 hours.
Thou shall not steal.

Will versus Be going to
1. be going to is more informal and interpersonal than will.
Ex. “The war will be over soon.” … rather than:
“The war’s gonna be over soon.”

2. be going to is for action already begun in the present or immediately happen with obvious evidences that it really occurs and the speaker don’t have control (lost control).
Ex. “Help, I’m going to fall.”
“Look, it’s gonna rain soon.”

3. will is used when future outcome is controlled by the speaker or conveys a sense of promise.
Ex. “Go to the café at 9:00 pm and I will meet you there.” … rather than:
“Go to the café at 9:00 pm and I’m going to meet you there.” = (conveys plan or intention)

Should and ought to

1. Should is appropriate when the speaker’s/ writer’s own personal criteria is used as moral judgment while ought to is used based on external rules (law, institutions, social conventions, etc.)
Ex. Parents should take care of their child and they ought to support their financial needs, education, and other needs.

Used to versus Be used to and Get used to

1. used to suggests a factual report of past habit
2. get used to expresses change of habit, for familiarity, more effective stance, and positive attitude
3. be used to = “Accustomed”,
Note that used to = past habit, followed by infinitives
Be used to and get used to can refer to any time frame by changing the tense of be and get; they are followed by gerund.
Ex. Was used to, is used to
Got used to, get used to

Must, have to, and Have got to

1. must can be used for expressing inference.
Ex. You must have the wrong number!
You must have been kidding when he said that.
2. have to is used to express social necessity.
Ex. Excuse me, I have to go to the restroom.
3. have got to is shortened to gotta to express either inference or social necessity with special degree of urgency.
Ex. You gotta be kidding me!
had better/best
1. had better/best suggests the possibility of unpleasant consequences.
Ex. You had better/ best to return that book to the library. (or else…)

Use of can versus No modal

1. can was preferred in context that were more interactional, affective and empathetic.
Ex. Yeah, I can understand where she’s coming from.
2. without can, it is more factual, direct, sometimes abrupt, even argumentative.
Ex. I understand your point. Anything else?
3. to show surprise expression
Ex. It’s your birthday? I can’t believe it.
Phrasal modal properties:

1. The subject-verb agreement rule must be applied. (Except used to which is an inflected past tense)
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