Saturday, May 16, 2009

Modal Auxiliaries : WILL and WOULD

Non- native learners of English are often puzzled at the way English speakers use the auxiliaries WILL and WOULD .ESL learners often think that will has the auxiliary function of indicating future tense and nothing more , and would is its past tense form used in reported speech .

The truth is that WILL and WOULD are used in present-day English mainly as Modal Auxiliaries Apart from their use as future time indicators they express a variety of moods or emotional attitudes of the speakers .

The Use of WILL as a Modal Auxiliary

1Will expresses willingness

*I will help you to carry this suit-case.
*I wii lend you some money .

2 Will used to make requests

*Will you ,please, pass the salt?*
*Will you open the window, please?

3Will used to make a command or order.

* You will never talk to her like that!
* you will never step into my house again.!

4 Will used to state a general truth.

*Children will be children.
*A burnt child will dread the fire.

5 Will used to express a guess
* " Listen! Somebody is ringing the door-bell"
"Oh, it will be John. I'm expecting him"

6 Will expresses a habit

* She will sit for hours watching TV.
*He will smoke whenever he feels lonely. .

The Use of WOULD as a Modal Auxiliary

1WOULD is used in impossible conditions to nexpress something ( an action or an event) which could not be done or could not take place because the condition was not fulfilled . Example

*I would have helped if she had asked me to.

(This sentence means that I did not help her because she did not ask me to help her)

2 WOULD is used in imaginary or hypothetical conditions

*I would be happy if he apologized to her,.

(WOULD suggests that apologizing is hypothetical or imaginary )
Please note that the past tense form of the verb does not mean that the action is past in meaning .. It is the way English language shows unreal or imaginary things This may puzzle ESL learners!

3 WOULD expresses a wish

*I wish she would make a speedy recovery>.

WOULD expresses the result of an action imagined by the speaker

*She would look better in a yellow sari!

* It would be unfair to deny her a chance

WOULD expresses a polite request

*Would you, please, vacate this seat for this lady?

WOULD is sometimes used instead of used to to indicate a habitual action in the past

*She would play tennis when she was at college.

Dear readers , I hope that you have found this lesson usrful I will discuss the remaining modal auxiliaries in my next post

Thank you

Sunday, May 10, 2009

modal auxiliary : NEED

The Use of NEED

When NEED is used as an ordinary English verb with the structure : verb+ to-infinitive it behaves exactly like the verbs want , wish , desire etc. It is inflected for number and person when the subject is third person singular . Its negatives and questions are formed with the help of dummy auxiliary do Look at these examples:

*She needs to take a few days rest.

*He does not need to go to office.

*She didn't need to call a taxi. I offered her a lift.

*Does he need to show his passport every time he checks-in ?

You can see from these examples that NEED behaves like ordinary verbs want or wish .

NEED as a Modal Auxiliary

When NEED is used as a modal auxiliary , it does not inflect for number or person when the subject is third person singular Need is followed by bare infinitive, that is , base-form of the verb,.

She need not go to school today

He need not learn Chinese for studying medicine in China.

When NEED is used as a modal auxiliary do- support is not required for negatives and questions

She need not worry about getting a job .

Need he come early tomorrow?

Please note that this dual behavior of NEED has enriched the English languageWhen NEED is used with do-support it carries the idea of a permanent habit and when it is used as a modal auxiliary it carries the idea of a particular occasion

Do I need to wear a tie whenever I attend the club(permanent habit)

Need I get up so early tomorrow?(a particular occasion)

Moreover, the question using need as ordinary verb is an open question The answer can be yes or no ..On the contrary ,the question using need as a modal auxiliary anticipates a negative reply.

The negative of needed is didn't need in present-day English .(that is, need as an ordinary verb) Examples:
He needed to earn a little more money to heep family happy .

He didn't need to work so hard He has a lot of money in the bank!

Needn't have is used when an action was unnecessary , but was done nevertheless.(Amodal use of the verb) Examples:

You needn't have gone to the railway station Your train has been cancelled.

You needn't have booked the tickets .She has changed her plans!

Thus the use of NEED as both an ordinary verb and a modal auxiliary has enriched the E nglish language It would be a poor version of English if it uses need only as an ordinary verb .!

Now to summarize

NEED as ordinary verb:
*takes -s ending in present tense when subject is third person singular

*do-support required for questions and negatives.

*it is followed by to-infinitive

NEED as modal auxiliary
*does not take -s ending when subject is third person singular

*no do-support for questions and negatives

*it is followed by bare infinitive

I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Modal Auxiliaries : Must & Have to.

Dear Readers!

A knowledge of the correct use of Modal Auxiliaries is indispensable for anyone who wishes to communicate in English ,.

In this lesson I will be discussing the correct use of the auxiliaries must and have to.

Strictly speaking, have to is not a modal auxiliary and it may be better called a substitute modal auxiliary .

The Use of Must

Must is used to indicate obligation, duty orcompulsion . Look at these examples:

* You must learn your lessons regularly.

*We must look after our aged parents.

*You must be properly dressed while attending job interviews.

*Children must brush their teeth twice every day.

*A teacher must prepare his lessons well before going to classes.

*A good manager must treat the employees with respect.

Please note that all these sentences carry the idea of duty, obligation or compulsion..

Another common use of must is to indicate necessity Look at these examples:

*I must leave now: I have to attend a meeting.

I must hurry: I have to catch a train to Cochin.

* I have a nagging cough : I must see a doctor this evening .

The distinction between Must and Have to

Have to and must are often confused by ESL learners. Please remember that must indicates duty , obligation or compulsion from the speaker's point of view .It can be substituted for 'I want you to ". Examples:

*You must respect your elders( I want you to respect your elders)

*You must practise good table manners (I want you to practise good table manners)

*You must keep your word ( I want you to keep your word )

Have to indicates a compulsion from outside and it does not in any way indicate the speaker's point of view

Negatives and Questions


When must indicates necessity, the negative is "needn't ".Look at this dialogue

"I must rush to the station . I have to catch The Alleppey Expr

' You needn't rush . The train has been cancelled "


The negative of must is mustn't when must indicates duty,. E

*You mustn't travel without tickets

*We mustn't insult the poor>In these sentences mustn't is a negative command or prohibition)

Questions with must/have to

Must begins open questions whose answers may be yes or no. On the contrary, if the modal auxiliary" need" begins a question ,the expected answer is No

Must I come every morning?( the speaker expects the reply yes or no)

'do (subject) have to " is used to express permanent compulsion Example

Do I have to show my passport every time I check-in?

To express compulsion on particular occasions do can be dropped and have to or have got to is enough Example

Have I got to come early tomorrow? (A particular occasion)

Has she got to receive him at the airport tomorrow?(A particular occasion)

I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you