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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #108301: May, Might, Should... what they mean...
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Speaking | Tales | Modals [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - On the phone - Interacting with someone - Dialogue : What time...? - Eating out-Vocabulary - Differences between Like and As - One/ They/ People.... - Conditional clauses - Dialogue : On the phone ( formal)
    > Double-click on words you don't understand


    May, Might, Should... what they mean...


    For beginners in English, it's always difficult to be able to choose the right modal auxiliaries spontaneously ...

     

                                                                    

     

    First, you have to understand that they are not ordinary verbs but auxiliaries enabling the speaker to give an opinion or a judgement about the action expressed by the main verb. Each one of these auxiliaries brings a special nuance to the verb it precedes.

    ex : He can swim= he knows how to swim; he may swim/be swimming he's allowed to swim/Perhaps he's swimming ; he might swim = I'm not sure at all, but perhaps, he's swimming; he must swim = he's certainly swimming (since he's not drowning) ; he should swim = it would be a good idea for him to swim ; He could swim if he wanted to= He would be able to swim; he didn't swim ... =  negative form.

    In this lesson, we'll concentrate on the auxiliaries giving information about the degree of certainty, or uncertainty of an action. 

     

    DEGREES  OF UNCERTAINTY
    => VALUES/NUANCES 
    AUXILIARIES and EXAMPLES: 
    It's almost certain.
    => NEAR-CERTAINTY
    MUST
    - He must be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = I'm almost certain that he's feeling shy because he knows nobody in the group.
    It's a little less certain
    => 
    POTENTIAL  
    WILL
    He will 
    be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = He will be shy because he knows nobody in the 
    group; that's a possibility.
    It's really less certain
    => ADVICE/REPROACH  
    SHOULD
    He should be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = I'm not certain, but I think he'll be shy 
    because he knows nobody in the group.
    It's really less certain
    => PROBABILITY
    MAY
    He may 
    be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = It's possible for him to be shy
     because he knows nobody in the group.
    It's really less certain
    => POSSIBILITY
    COULD
    - He could 
    be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = He'd have good reasons to be shy
     because he knows nobody in the group.
    It's quite improbable or impossible
    => STRONG 
    IMPROBABILITY
    MIGHT 
    He might 
    be shy as he doesn't know anyone in the group.
    = Perhaps he'll be shy
     because he knows nobody in the group.
    It's inconceivable or impossible 
    => IMPOSSIBILITY
    CAN'T
    He can't 
    be shy as he knows a lot of people in the group.
    = B
    eing shy is impossible for him because he knows everybody in the group.

       Simple NEGATION- He isn't shy, for sure.
                            

     

                                        


    In the sentences of part 1, give 'the value' or 'nuance' of the modals which are used. In the following part,  the 'value' or 'nuance' is given and you must choose the appropriate form of the modal form.







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    1) Look at the sky it may rain in an hour or so.

    We should leave before it pours.

    No need to worry, I will take my raincoat, and you will take your umbrella.

    If necessary, we'll find a shelter! Therefore, we can't be wet!


    'Before we go out, you (advice) tidy up the mess in your room.

    If not, your mother decide (possibility) that she's had enough of it,

    and (strong improbability) all your things away ...'

    - 'My mother (impossibility in the past) that !

    She (near-certainty) more tolerant than yours...'

    - 'Well, my room is my Kingdom, and I'm my own King!' You (advice) your own King in your kingdom, too ! '









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