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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #108430: Can/could/may... Must/have to...
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Speaking | Modals | Politeness [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


    Can/could/may... Must/have to...


    After studying and making a difference between the modals expressing the uncertainty of an action test, we are now going to study other nuances of the modal auxiliaries concerning the freedom of action of a subject.

     

                                       

     

     

    1) CAPACITY and FREEDOM the SUBJECT has to ACT (or not):

    Physical or intellectual Capacity (in the present or in the past); CAN is the modal auxiliary expressing physical and intellectual capacity; in the negative, CAN'T expresses  physical and intellectual incapacity

    ex: The robot can move its lips in time with the words (physical capacity) and it can speak six different foreign languages ...(intellectual capacity).  

    ex: Melissa couldn't speak about her dilemma to anyone. (= incapacity in the past)


    2) PERMISSION (may/can): THE FREEDOM OF ACTION (to act, or not to act) is expressed with 'MAY', and refusal will be built with CAN'T. 

      Can I borrow your book, please? is less polite than 'May I borrow ... ?' or 'Could I borrow ...?'

    ex: Yes, Kevin, you may leave the table now, but you can't leave the house!


    3) OBLIGATION or INTERDICTION: in both cases, the FREEDOM of ACTION is denied. 

    *  MUST indicates an obligation felt by the speaker:

    ex: I must go now, as I still have a lot of homework to do.

    HAVE TO insists on pure facts and regulations:

    ex: You have to leave now ! No visits after six ! 

    * The absence of necessity  minimizes the restriction of freedom. It can be expressed in three different, but equivalent, ways:  

    ex: You needn't bring your own book!( = IN THE PRESENT)

    ex: You didn't need to bring your own book! (in another tense than the present) OR You didn't have to bring your own book! 

     

                                                                                

    Now, you're ready for the test !   Go for it ! 





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    - 'Oh Mom, here while you go to the doctor's?'
    - 'Of course you , Elsa ... Don't you remember that a shot (une piqûre) today?
    If I , I would take you to watch a film instead, but I !
    If you don't have it today, you it tomorrow ... Really, procrastinate!
    - 'Procras' what? ' repeat, please, Mom?'
    - 'Procrastinate' ! It's a word ! It means : 'delay, or postpone'!'
    - 'Come on, Mom ! You to use learned words just to make me go to the doctor's... I know I ... Don't worry! I'll go! You pretend I'm a baby... I'm a big girl!'








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