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FIRST YEAR PRACTICAL ENGLISH GRAMMAR COURSE

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MODALITY
INTRINSIC MODALITY: involves some intrinsic human control over events (incl. permission, obligation, and
volition) [approx. synonyms: deontic, root modality]
EXTRINSIC MODALITY (incl. possibility, necessity, and prediction) involves human judgement of what is or is
not likely to happen [syn: epistemic modality]

LEXICAL MEANS OF EXPRESSING MODALITY

1. Nouns: chance, hope, expectation e.g. His intention is admirable.


2. Adjectives: possible, likely, obvious, appropriate, able, doubtful, certain
3. Adverbs: hardly, perhaps, evidently, fortunately, regrettably, strangely
4. Verbs: (a) full verbs: doubt, think, believe, predict, suggest, want, prefer; (b) modal auxiliary verbs;
5. Combinations: e.g. Perhaps he might have done it.

4(b) Modal Auxiliary Verbs


1. Ability or potential:

can, could, be able to

2. General characteristics:

can, could

3. Possibility:

can, could, may, might

4. Permission:

can, could, may, might

5. Volition and willingness:

can, could, will, would

6. Concession:

may

7. Requests and suggestions:

might

8. Admonition:

might

9. Expectation or probability (near certainty):

should, ought to

10. Duty (also, strong reason):

should, ought to

11. Inference and logical conclusions:

must, cant

12. Belief and conjecture:

will, would

13. Characteristic behaviour:

will, would

14. Inherent capacity:

will, would

15. Prediction:

shall, will

16. Promise:

shall, shall + 2nd, 3rd p. sing.

17. Advice and recommendation:

shall, should, ought to, had better

18. Obligation and necessity:

must, mustnt, have (got) to

19. Absence of obligation and necessity:

neednt, not need to, not have to

20. neednt have done vs. didnt need/have to do


Examples:
3. Can that be true? He may not be serious. [It is possible that he isnt serious.], He cant be serious. [Its not
possible that hes serious.]
5. Can/will you pass the sugar? I wont be protected.
8. You might be a little more attentive. You might have come a little earlier.
12. This will be the book youre looking for. Ask him, hell know.
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13. The door would not open.


14. This knife will not cut.

I. CONNECT EACH PHRASE TO ITS EXPLANATION:


needed to

should have

shouldnt have

didnt need to

neednt have

1. action was not necessary, but had been taken anyway;


2. action was necessary or obligatory, and it was wrong not to have taken it;
3. action was not necessary, or was prohibited, and it was wrong to have taken it;
4. action was not necessary, and may or may not have been taken subsequently;
5. action was necessary and may or may not have been taken subsequently;
II. DISCUSS THE MEANINGS OF THE MODAL VERB PHRASES IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES:
1. Its very late in the day to cancel it; I do think you might have let me know a little earlier.
2. He could have been a great politician, but he chose instead to become a priest.
3. Judging from the architecture, this photo might have been taken in Spain.
4. I was wondering whether I could come and see you next week.
5. You cant have phoned on Tuesday, because I was in all day.
6. The line was so bad that he could hardly understand what she was saying.
7. You could have phoned to tell us you were all right.
8. There could be severe unrest if the economy doesnt improve before the winter.
9. Excuse me, Sir. Might I ask whether you intend to stay another night at the hotel?
10.

If I pass all my exams, I may take a year off and travel round the world.

11. Cars must not be parked in front of the entrance.


12.

She must be on the wrong side of thirty.

13.

He can't have arrived yesterday.

14.

He may have arrived yesterday.

15.

I won't be trifled with.

III.

FILL IN THE BLANKS:

Houdini ____ escape from chains and padlocks, from ropes and canvas sacks. They once hung him upside
down in a straitjacket and he ____ break free in minutes. When he was in the coffin, he ____ hear the sound of
footsteps above him. Until now, no one has ____ explain how he did those things. Perhaps in the future
someone might ____ repeat some of his feats. Some people thought that Houdini ____ put himself in
suspended animation*. Once he ____ stay underground in a coffin for half an hour without using air. So far
nobody ____ copy all of Houdinis dramatic escapes.
*suspended animation: the temporary cessation of most vital functions without death, as in a dormant seed or a hibernating
animal.

IV. SUPPLY THE MISSING MODAL PHRASE AND MAKE ANY NECESSARY CHANGES:
1. You _______ look where youre going!
2. Owing to the strike, trains _______ be subject to delays.
3. This _______ be (is probably) what youre looking for.
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4. The restaurant _______ be expensive but the cuisine is excellent.


5. Holidays abroad arent necessarily expensive. They _______ be quite cheap.
6. Agreement between management and unions _______ be reached tomorrow.
7. You _______ ask him if it is convenient before you call on him.
8. His fiance writes to him every day. She _______ be very much in love with him.
9. You _______ see that he was bored to death at the party last night.
10.

English cooking isnt necessarily bad. In fact, it _______ be excellent.

11. The Conservatives _______ (are expected) to win the next election.
12.

Its half past eight. That _______ be the postman at the door.

13.

He has no idea what the book is about. He _______ read it.

14.

His work _______ improved but its still not good enough.

15.

Lets wait no longer. He _______ not turn up at all.

16.

She doesnt always remember things. She _______ be quite forgetful at times.

17.

They _______ not reach an agreement tomorrow.

18.
A: He _______ be at least sixty, judging by the number of books he has written. B: No, he _______
be that old.
19.

You _______ at least apologized for what you said.

20.

No wonder the house is cold! You _______ always go out and leave the doors open!

21.

My children love watching TV. They _______ sit for hours without saying a word.

22.

The method _______ be crude, but its certainly effective.

23.

You _______ appreciate, I am sure, that this puts me in a very difficult position.

24.

Im amazed that she married him so soon. She _______ get to know him better.

25.

The book _______ be long, but you _______ hardly call it boring.

26.

You _______ warn me the car was nearly out of petrol.

27.

My wife _______ persistently leave things where other people _______ fall over them!

28.

This suitcase _______ hold everything.

29.

You really _______ try to be more tactful.

30.

You _______ post this letter for me while you are shopping.

31.

I dont seem to have my keys with me. I _______ them at home.

32.

I met Mr Jones at the interview. He _______ be the managers assistant, I assume.

33.
When we lived in the north, the water pipes _______ freeze every winter, and we _______ have to
call in a plumber.
34.

What a pity that you _______ have missed the only report worth hearing.

35.

My car _______ start. Otherwise its very fast - it _______ do over 180 km/h.

36.

They havent been on speaking terms recently. They _______ quarrel.

37.

Hes very absent-minded. He _______ buy things and then leave the shop without paying.

38.

He wears glasses all the time. His eyesight _______ be good.

39.

The two students talked quietly lest the teacher _______ hear what they were saying.

40.

You _______ not know my name, but I was a friend of your fathers.

41.

I tried to decline his invitation, but he _______ repeatedly insist on my coming.


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42.

That jug is big enough. It _______ hold at least a gallon.

43.

Factory inspectors recommended that new safety rules _______ be used.

44.

Its not fair! I always _______ do the dirty work!

45.

Why _______ you ask such a stupid question?

46.

Its incredible that we _______ have been living in the same street for two years.

47.

He said he would ring, but he hasnt. He _______ forget.

48.

Its odd that both our wives _______ have the same name.

49.

The car broke down and we _______ have it towed to a garage.

50.

Ill give you my number in case you _______ want to get in touch with me.

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V. MATCH EACH SENTENCE BEGINNING WITH 2 POSSIBLE ENDINGS :


a) because it is impossible to open the door without the key
1. They could have sold their house

b) because we went to a lot of trouble preparing your visit.

2. You may see Peter tonight

c) as long as you do all you homework first.

3. My car cant be stolen

d) if they had been more flexible about the price.

4. You might have written to us

e) but our filing system is in a mess, so I have no record of it.

5. He could have caught an early train

f) so he might be here in half an hour or so.


g) because I bought it from a reputable dealer.
h) so they might not be able to put you up.
i) because he said hed try and come to the party.
j) but he decided to spend the night in London instead.

VI. USE NEEDED TO, DIDNT NEED TO, SHOULD HAVE, NEEDNT HAVE OR SHOULDNT HAVE:
1. The policeman was furious with me and said that I _______ (drive) so fast in a residential area.
2. I _______ (take) the parcel to the Post Office because Sonja very kindly took it for me.
3. We discovered when we arrived on the island that we _____ (book) in advance as there was nowhere to stay.
4. Although we _______ (have) comprehensive insurance, we got it anyway just to be on the safe side.
5. He told the taxi driver he _____ (reach) the airport as quickly as possible, as the plane was due to leave
soon.
6. I _______ (spend) so much time worrying about the test, because in the end it was really easy.

VII.

EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE IF ANY:

1 a) It may rain, youd better take a coat.


1 b) It might rain, youd better take a coat.
2 a) He may not be serious.
2 b) He cant be serious.
3 a) May I borrow your umbrella?
3 b) Can I borrow your umbrella?
4 a) Im surprised that he should feel lonely.
4 b) Im surprised that he feels lonely.
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5 a) You neednt bring an umbrella.


5 b) You mustnt bring an umbrella.
6 a) Farmers have to get up early.
6 b) Farmers must get up early.
7 a) You may have written.
7 b) You might have written.
8 a) You neednt have knocked.
8 b) You neednt have written it all when I come back.
9 a) The deal might not be struck next week.
10 b) The deal could not be struck next week.
10 a) She didnt need to go to hospital.
11 b) She neednt have gone to hospital.
VIII. SUPPLY THE MISSING MODAL PHRASE AND MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES IF ANY:
1. Candidates _______ not bring textbooks into the examination room.
2. You _______ drink this; it is poison.
3. If you said that, he _______ be offended.
4. A: Do you remember reading about it in the newspapers? B: No, I _______ be abroad at the time.
5. He was very sick last night. The meat we had _______ be very good.
6. Father: You _______ do what Mummy says.
7. A: I have just watered the roses. B: You _______ water them. Look, its raining now!
8. He _______ drive me to the station. I managed to take a taxi.
9. From now on you _______ come in earlier at night.
10.

I dont think Ill succeed but I _______ as well try.

11. A: I left my bicycle here and now its gone. B: Someone _______ borrow it.
12.

He _______ escape by this window because it is barred.

13.

I didnt have enough money. I _______ pay by cheque.

14.

You _______ write to him for he will be here tomorrow.

15.

A: Perhaps he swam across. B: No, he _______ do that; he cant swim.

16.

When he was a child he _______ do exactly as he liked.

17.

A: Ive opened another bottle. B: You _______ do that. Weve only just started this one.

18.

You _______ read this book. Its really excellent.

19.

You _______ give 10. 5 would have been enough.

20.

Church notice: Visitors _______ walk about the church during a service.

21.

A: The machine said, You weigh 65 kilos, and I said, Thank you. B: You _______ say anything.

22.

Mr Pitt _______ cook his own meals. His wife is away.

23.

You _______ see a rattlesnake. There arent any rattlesnakes in this country.

24.

A: Youve given me too much. B: You _______ eat it all.

25.

My neighbours child _______ practice the piano for three hours a day.

26.

You _______ make your bed. The maid will do it.

27.

We _______ walk. He took us in his car.


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28.

Tell her that she _______ be here by six. I insist on that.

29.

He has refused but he _______ change his mind if you asked him again.

30.

A: He returned home with a tiger cub. B: His wife _______ be very pleased about that.

31.
died.

A: He said he watered the plants every day. B: He _______ water them. If he had, they wouldnt have

32.

I never remember his address; I always _______ look it up.

33.

I not _______ do all the work. Brian helped me with it.

WISH, D RATHER, ITS TIME


I. OPEN THE BRACKETS:
1. I wish I (can) speak several languages.
2. I wish I (have) a car.
3. She wishes her parents (approve) of her boyfriend.
4. I wish I (be) older.
5. I wish you (like) pop music.
6. I wish she (be) so stubborn.
7. I wish you (come) to the party with me last night.
8. She wished Mary (not come) to her birthday.
II. PARAPHRASE THE SENTENCES USING THE WORDS IN BRACKETS:
1. Please hurry up! (wish)
2. Its very late. We really ought to be leaving. (time)
3. It would be nice to know his opinion. (wish)
4. Please keep it secret for the time being. (rather)
5. Its a pity that youre going away so soon. (wish)
6. Would you mind not smoking at the table? rather)
7. He really should find himself a regular job. (time)
8. My parents would prefer us to live in the country. (rather)
9. When is the weather going to improve? (high time)
10.

Please stop making so much noise! (wish)