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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#25), by Dennis Oliver

 

Modal Verbs #25:
Individual Modal Verbs

 

The English modal verbs are often challenging for learners
of English. This happens for many reasons, including both
grammar and meaning.

In this Hint, we'll begin to look at will.


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Will #1:
Predictions

 

One use for the modal auxiliary will is in showing someone's
predictions about the future--things that someone speaks or
writes about before they actually happen.

When will is used, it's commonly contracted to 'll. It's also
common to use a contraction for the negative form of
will:
will not becomes won't.

Both the affirmative and negative forms of will are used in
making predictions:


Examples:

A:

B:

 

The sky's awfully dark.

It certainly is. I think we'll have rain before morning.

(B is making a prediction. He or she doesn't actually know
that there will be rain before morning.)

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A:

B:

 

I'm worried about my algebra test.

You'll do fine! You studied for a long time.

(B is making a prediction. He or she doesn't actually know
that A will do fine.)

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A:

B:

 

Where's Mr. Sato's office?

It's right over there--but he probably won't
be there. I think he's in a meeting.

(B is making a prediction. He or she doesn't actually know
that Mr. Sato won't be in his office.)

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A:

B:

 

What are Frank's chances in the race?

He'll be lucky if he gets second or third place.
He
won't win because at least two of the runners
are faster than he is.

(B is making two predictions. He or she doesn't actually know
that Frank will be lucky to get second or third place and he
doesn't actually know that Frank won't win.)


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Special Notes:

1.  

Be going to may also be used in making predictions:

I think we're going to have rain before morning.

You're going to do fine!

Mr. Sato probably isn't going to be in his office.

Frank's going to be lucky if he gets second or third place.

Frank's not going to win. (Frank isn't going to win.).

     
2.  

In fast, casual speech, going to sounds something
like "gonna." This form is common in speaking,
but it isn't appropriate for most written work.

When people use going to in casual speech, they
usually contract
be, but it is often difficult to hear.
Also, "gonna" is a "relaxed" form of
going to,
so it is
not followed by to.

not this:
or these:


but this:

 

*I gonna leave now.
*I gonna to leave now. /
*I'm gonna to leave now.

I'm gonna leave now.

     

not this:
or these:


but this:

 

*You gonna be sorry!
*You gonna to be sorry! /
*You're gonna to be sorry!

You're gonna be sorry!


But remember:

"Gonna" is used in spoken language, not in most
forms of written language.

 


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Next: more on modal verbs

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