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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#28), by Dennis Oliver


Modal Verbs #28:
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 take our first look at would.


Would (#1)


The modal auxiliary would has several different uses. One of
them is in making a kind of "artificial past" for
will in indirect
(reported) speech. (In indirect speech, the tense of the verb
in a quoted sentence is controlled by the tense of the main verb.
If the main verb is past, as it often is in indirect speech,
changes to
would because of the influence of the main verb.)

The negative of would is would not (which is frequently
contracted to


direct speech   indirect speech

Marķa said, "Will you
help me?"

Pedro replied, "I will
if I have time."


Marķa asked Pedro if
would help her.

Pedro replied that he would
if he had time.


Marķa said, "I won't
need very much of
your time."

Pedro then asked,
"How much time
you need?"


Then Marķa told Pedro
that she
wouldn't need
very much of his time.

Pedro responded by
asking Marķa how much
time she
would need.


Marķa answered,
won't need more
than 10 minutes."

Pedro said, "If you
need only 10 minutes,
'll be able to help you
right away."


Marķa told Pedro that she
wouldn't need more than
10 minutes.

Pedro replied by saying
that if Marķa needed only
10 minutes, he
would be
able to help her right away.


Next: more on modal verbs

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