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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#30), by Dennis Oliver


Modal Verbs #30:
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 continue to look at would.


Would (#3)


The modal auxiliary would (negative would not, which is
often contracted to
wouldn't) has several uses. One of them
is in making a kind of "artificial past" for
will in indirect
(reported) speech. Another is in making polite requests.

Would is also commonly used in the expression would like.
This expression (which is often contracted to
'd like with
pronouns) does not mean "like." Instead, it means
(though it is "softer," less direct, and much more polite).


Sentences with Want   Sentences with Would Like

I want more coffee.
(very direct)

Do you want to come
with us? (very direct)

Mrs. Pérez
wants to
say something. (very direct)


I'd like some more coffee.
(less direct, more polite)

Would you like to come
with us? (less direct,
more polite)

Mrs. Pérez would like to
say something. (less direct,
more polite)


Special Notes:

1.   When would like is contracted to 'd like (I'd like,
you'd like, she'd like, etc.), the contraction for
is very difficult to hear.

In very casual speech, the end of would often
combines with the beginning of
you to make
a new sound. As a result,
Would you sounds
something like "

Wouldja like some coffee?
( =
Would you like some coffee?)

Wouldja like to dance?
( =
Would you like to dance?)

Wouldja like something to eat?
( =
Would you like something to eat?)

Note: Wouldja is a spoken form, not a standard
written form. In writing, it is not acceptable except
in comics and in very informal messages to friends.


In very casual speech, both would and you are
sometimes omitted entirely in questions:

Like some coffee?
( =
Would you like some coffee?)

Like to dance?
( =
Would you like to dance?)

Like something to eat?
( =
Would you like something to eat?)


Next: more on modal verbs

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