Modal Verbs: an overview with examples $ links

Must – to have to, or to be highly likely. Must can be used to express 100% certainty, a logical deduction or prohibition depending on the context.

  • It must be hard to work 60-hours a week. (probable)
  • You must listen to the professor during the lecture. (necessity)
  • She must not be late for her appointment. (necessity)
  • It must not be very hard to do. (probable)

Can – to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Can is a very common modal verb in English. It’s used to express ability, permission and possibility.

  • It can be done. (possible)
  • She can sleepover at Sara’s house this weekend. (allowed to)
  • The car can drive cross country. (able to)
  • It cannot be done. (impossible)
  • The doctor said he cannot go to work on Monday. (not allowed to)
  • She cannot focus with the car alarm going off outside. (not able to)

Could –to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Could is used when talking about an ability in the past or for a more polite way to ask permission.

  • Mark could show up to work today. (possible)
  • Could I come with you? (allowed to)
  • When I was in college I could stay up all night without consequence. (able to)
  • Mark could not come to work today. (possible/allowed)
  • Last night I could not keep my eyes open. (able to)

May – to be allowed to, it is possible or probable

  • May I sit down here? (allowed to)
  • I may have to cancel my plans for Saturday night. (possible/probable)
  • She may not arrive on time due to traffic. (possible)

Might – to be allowed to, possible or probable. Might is used when discussing something that has a slight possibility of happening, or to ask for permission in a more polite way.

  • Chris might show up to the concert tonight. (possible/probable)
  • Might I borrow your computer? (Many people don’t say this in American English, instead they would say Can I borrow your computer? Or May I borrow your computer?)

Need – necessary

  • Need I say more? (necessary)
  • You need not visit him today. (not necessary)

Should – to ask what is the correct thing to do, to suggest an action or to be probable. Should usually implies advice, a logical deduction or a so-so obligation.

  • Should I come with her to the dentist? (permission)
  • Joe should know better. (advice/ability)
  • It should be a very quick drive to the beach today. (possibility)
  • Margaret should not jump to conclusions. (advice)

Had better – to suggest an action or to show necessity

  • Evan had better clean up the mess he made. (necessity)
  • Megan had better get to work on time tomorrow. (necessity)

Will – to suggest an action or to be able to

  • John will go to his second period class tomorrow. (action)
  • It will happen. (action)
  • She will see the difference. (be able to)
  • Eva will not drive the Volkswagen. (not do an action)
  • Joe will not study tonight because he has to work. (not be able to)

Would – to suggest an action, advice or show possibility in some circumstances

  • That would be nice. (advise/possibility/action)
  • She would go to the show, but she has too much homework. (action)
  • Mike would like to know what you think about his presentation. (action)
  • modal auxiliaries

Here are some useful links:-

  1. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/auxiliary.htm
  2. http://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-lesson-modals.php
  3. http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/grammar/hilfsverben1.htm
  4. https://www.tesol-direct.com/tesol-resources/english-grammar-guide/modal-auxiliary-verbs/
  5. http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/modal-auxiliary-verbs
  6. http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/modal-verbs.html
  7. http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/verbmodal.html

Stunning Sitharaam

‘Ah, it’s February, only two more months to go’ I thought to myself as I sat in the class one Thursday afternoon. I couldn’t wait to go to my native and hang out with my friends I thought dreamily. Then the creak of the door interrupted my day dream. A shiver went up my spine. It  was Mr. Ojha, our chemistry sir and with him was every students’ nightmare, ‘Answer papers!!’. He sat on the chair and placed the papers on the table. I gulped, I was shivering all over like some took me to Artic with me in my underwear.

He read out the names, Ravi, Anand, Prasad. All of them came shivering and most walked away with a beating. Then ‘Sitharaam” a name came, okay it is my name but it sounded like it came from hell. I slowly got up and walked towards sir. ‘Thirty seven marks’ he barked. Right, I know it’s not impressive because it is 36/90 not by 50.

A slap, a beat, a rock, a jazz came like a tone that formed music. Then came a bunch of teachers, all with answer papers. I felt scared, I hadn’t dared to speak up. I felt horrible that day for my stupid mark. I was bright in English while I had fused in maths.

That day when I reached home, I locked myself in my room. I sat on my bed, I felt tears and I wept and got a headache for which I slept. At about 3  AM I got up. I walked around my room and I realized that I should work hard to get an A1 grade in my upcoming CBSE Board exam. I had to show my class that I was a ‘Super Sitharaam’ and not a ‘stupid Sitharaam’.

Next day was a ‘Marvelous Tuesday’ for me. I went to school carrying a lump on my head. ‘Lumb of joy’ of course. I was bright that day and I figured out that being a studious fellow was much better than playing a video game for 5 hours. That’s how I transformed from ‘Sounding Sitharaam’ to ‘Silent Sitharaam’ from stupid to start. And watch me in 10th grade how I will be a wanted guy for studying…

J.Miller : Critic as host

J. Miller: Critic as Host

J. Miller’s point of departure was from the literary theory known as structuralism which was put forward by Ferdinand Saussure and his theory of language as a system of signs. He uses the word parasite that necessitates the presence of a guest. Every text has to be read univocally which is metaphysical or obvious reading and deconstructive reading. There is no originality for a text. Every text points to inter-textuality. There is an inevitable duality in the interpretation and analysis of the text. Every text points to another text. It is a dialectical process where parasite ( deconstructive reading) becomes the host and vice versa.

Although every text is creative, it can’t deny the presence of a duality latent in it. It sheds much light into platonic idealism. There is no relevance to presence without the presence of absence. Metaphysics and nihilism go hand in hand. They are reciprocal and mutually fulfilling. We cannot comprehend a reality without positing this duality. A univocal reading is impossible without deconstructive or close reading. Every reading is a sublimation of the text. The critic as a host, through his reading, to say, deconstructive reading becomes the author of the text another text which is going to be written thereafter.

Death of the Author: Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes, known as a post structuralist philosopher and linguistic thinker based his theory on his preceding linguistic philosophers like Ferdinand Saussure, who defined language as a system of signs. In his famous essay, ” Death of the Author, he begins his theory by quoting the Example from Balzac’s novel Sarrasine where the author gives a description of a ‘castratodisguised as a woman’. This woman with here sudden fears, her irrational claims, her instinctive worries, her impetuous boldness, her fussings, and her sensibility was a woman herself. Taking such steriotypes aside,Barth was concerned with the with the question:”who is speaking thus?” Here the Balzac the author, according to Barth is furnished his personal experience with the philosophy of woman. And he concludes that ‘writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.

Barth says that in the novel the narrator is unknown, we do not know who is speaking. As this is possible in the written but not the spoken word, Barth calls for a ‘deconstruction  of every voice, of every point of origin’. He argues that the critics especially of literature, up until his time have been not sages but ruiners of literature. He describes those so called critics as a destructive force to texts, and that their inclusion of information beyond the texts to which these critics cast their own pens is destructive to the very texts they examine. When describing the work of the Critic, Barthes repeatedly uses language which brings destruction to mind, including the words ‘Decipher” (or code-breaking) “pierce” and “evaporate”. He further describes a text as a delicate even ephemeral thing, comparing it first to a tissue, and then to the threads a stoking. In contrast, Barthes calls his idea ” the death of the author”. The author is not in fact torn, pierced, or destroyed but he simply “diminishes like  a figurine at the far end of the literary stage. Since the text stands between the author  and the reader, the author is not harmed by his death. He simpy goes unseen.

The idea of  the author is a relatively new one. The concept of the author is historically and culturally specific. It is the product modern period of Western Europe. It is a  product of our society emerging from the Middle Ages with English empiricism, French rationalism and personal faith of the Reformation.To be brief, it was the epitome and culmination of a capitalist ideology which has attached the greatest importance to the person of the author.

He introduces his theory on a linguistic basis. He says, “linguistically, the author is never more than the instance of writing, just as I is nothing other than the instance of saying I.” This reinforces the idea of the “removal of the author”. Barth claims that from the author creating a book, now the book and the author come into being at the same time. “There is no other time than that of the enunciation and every text is eternally written  here and now.”

Barth says that basically nothing is original or can be original. “We know that a text is not a line of words releasing a single theological meaning-but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. Words are explainable through other words. Author has lost all significance. It is only when all these fragments are read by the reader that literature can mean anything. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost, a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Barth preserves all texts for further study, reopening closed books, and also overturns the idea of the critic. It thus authorizes all readers to be critical of what they read.  Author in no longer an “authoritative viewpoint”. It is to the author that all texts are directed. He says that the true place for writing is reading.  It is in reading that the text comes to life. When writing begins, he says, ” voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death”.

There is no such thing as the “author” of a text but merely a “scriptor”. The text requires an analysis of a language and linguistics, rather than a speaking voice. The text is open to multiple interpretations by the reader, that the author may not have originally intended making the author insignificant figure in literature.  The author disappears at the point of writing for the reader is able to distinguish more than just a solitary voice in the lines of the text.

To conclude, any text once written  has little to do with the author. The reader can put any interpretation on it that the author did not intend. This gives significant freedom to the reader who is released the task of discerning the author’s intent. The task of the reader is not to decipher, but to enjoy and find one’s own meaning. It is the language that speaks, not the author. Language creates speaker. language knows a subject, but not the person. The text stands alone in the absence of the author and his/her context.

Present Continuous

The present continuous is used to talk about present situations which we see as short-term or temporary . We use the present simple to talk about present situations which we see as long-term or permanent.

In these examples, the action is taking place at the time of speaking.

  • It’s raining.
  • Who is Kate talking to on the phone?
  • Look, somebody is trying to steal that man’s wallet.
  • I’m not looking. My eyes are closed tightly.

In these examples, the action is true at the present time but we don’t think it will be true in the long term.

  • I’m looking for a new apartment.
  • He’s thinking about leaving his job.
  • They’re considering making an appeal against the judgment.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?

In these examples, the action is at a definite point in the future and it has already been arranged.

  • I’m meeting her at 6.30.
  • They aren’t arriving until Tuesday.
  • We are having a special dinner at a top restaurant for all the senior managers.
  • Isn’t he coming to the dinner?

 

 

gerunds and infinitives

Both gerunds and infinitives can be nouns, which means they can do just about anything that a noun can do. Although they name things, like other nouns, they normally name activities rather than people or objects. Here are five noun-uses of gerunds and infinitives (and one additional non-noun use, the adjective complement, that we throw in here, free of charge).

Gerunds and infintives can both function as the subject of a sentence:

  1. Playing basketball takes up too much of her time.
  2. To play basketball for UConn is her favorite fantasy.

It is not impossible for an infinitive to appear at the beginning of a sentence as the subject (as in Ib), but it is more common for an infinitive to appear as a Subject Complement:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is to play basketball for UConn.

The gerund can also play this role:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is playing basketball for UConn.

Both of these verbal forms can further identify a noun when they play the role of Noun Complement and Appositive:

  1. Her desire to play basketball for UConn became an obsession.
  2. I could never understand her desire to play basketball for UConn.
  3. Her one burning desire in life, playing basketball for UConn, seemed a goal within reach.

The infinitive is often a complement used to help define an abstract noun. Here is a very partial list of abstract nouns, enough to suggest their nature. Try following these adjectives with an infinitive phrase (their desire to play in the championship game, a motivation to pass all their courses, herpermission to stay up late, a gentle reminder to do your work) to see how the phrase modifies and focuses the noun.

advice
appeal
command
decision
desire
fact
instruction
motivation
opportunity
order
permission
plan
possibility
preparation
proposal
recommendation
refusal
reminder
request
requirement
suggestion
tendency
wish

Infinitive phrases often follow certain adjectives. When this happens, the infinitive is said to play the role of Adjective Complement. (This is not a noun function, but we will include it here nonetheless.)

  1. She was hesitant to tell the coach of her plan.
  2. She was reluctant to tell her parents, also.
  3. But she would not have been content to play high school ball forever.

Here is a list of adjectives that you will often find in such constructions.

ahead
amazed
anxious
apt
ashamed
bound
careful
certain
content
delighted
determined
disappointed
eager
eligible
fortunate
glad
happy
hesitant
liable
likely
lucky
pleased
proud
ready
reluctant
sad
shocked
sorry
surprised
upset

Although we do not find many infinitives in this next category, it is not uncommon to find gerunds taking on the role of Object of a Preposition:

  1. She wrote a newspaper article about dealing with college recruiters.
  2. She thanked her coach for helping her to deal with the pressure.

Two prepositions, except and but, will sometimes take an infinitive.

  1. The committee had no choice except to elect Frogbellow chairperson.
  2. What is left for us but to pack up our belongings and leave?

And, finally, both gerunds and infinitives can act as a Direct Object:

Here, however, all kinds of decisions have to be made, and some of these decisions will seem quite arbitrary. The next section is about making the choice between gerund and infinitive forms as direct object.

Verbs that take other verb forms as objects are called catenatives (from a word that means to link, as in a chain). Catenatives can be found at the head of a series of linked constructions, as in “We agreed to try to decide to stop eating between meals.” Catenatives are also characterized by their tendency to describe mental processes and resolutions. (Kolln)

Although it is seldom a serious problem for native English speakers, deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after a verb can be perplexing among students for whom English is a second language. Why do we decide to run, but we would never decide running? On the other hand, we might avoid running, but we would not avoid to run. And finally, we might like running and would also like to run. It is clear that some verbs take gerunds, some verbs take infinitives, and some verbs take either. The following tables of verbs should help you understand the various options that regulate our choice of infinitive or gerund.

The verbs in the table below will be followed by an infinitive. We decided to leave. He manages, somehow, to win. It is threatening to rain. Notice that many, but not all, of these verbs suggest a potential event.

Some of the verbs in the following table may be followed by a gerund if they are describing an “actual, vivid or fulfilled action” (Frodesen). Welove running. They began farming the land. These are described, also, below.

Emotion
care
desire
hate
hate
like
loathe
love
regret
yearn
Choice or Intent
agree
choose
decide
decide
expect
hope
intend
need
plan
prefer
prepare
propose
refuse
want
wish
Initiation, Completion, Incompletion
begin
cease
commence
fail
get
hesitate
manage
neglect
start
try
undertake
Mental Process
forget
know how
learn remember
Request and Promise
demand
offer
promise
swear
threaten
vow
Intransitives
appear
happen
seem tend
Miscellaneous
afford
arrange
claim
continue
pretend
wait

The verbs in the next table will often be followed by an infinitive, but they will also be accompanied by a second object. We asked the intruders to leave quietly. They taught the children to swim. The teacher convinced his students to try harder.

The verbs in blue, with an asterisk, can also follow the same pattern as the verbs in the table above (i.e., the second object is optional). We allwanted to go. They promised to be home early.

Communication
advise
ask*
beg*
challenge
command
convince
forbid
invite
order
permit
persuade
promise*
remind
require
tell
warn
urge
Instruction
encourage
help
instruct
teach
train
Causing
allow
cause
choose
force
get
hire
need*
would like*
Miscellaneous
dare*
expect*
trust
prepare*
want*

Gerunds accompany a form of the verb to go in many idiomatic expressions: Let’s go shopping. We went jogging yesterday. She goes bowlingevery Friday night.

The following verbs will be followed by a gerund. Did I mention reading that novel last summer? I recommend leaving while we can. I have quit smoking These verbs tend to describe actual events.

Initiation, Completion and Incompletion
anticipate
avoid
begin
cease
complete
delay
finish
get through
give up
postpone
quit
risk
start
stop
try
Communication
admit
advise
deny
discuss
encourage
mention
recommend
report
suggest
urge
Continuing Action
continue
can’t help
practice
involve
keep
keep on
Emotion
appreciate
dislike
enjoy
hate
like
love
mind
don’t mind
miss
prefer
regret
can’t stand
resent
resist
tolerate
Mental Process
anticipate
consider
forget
imagine
recall
remember
see
can’t see
understand

The verbs in the following table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, and there will be virtually no difference in the meaning of the two sentences. I like to play basketball in the park. I like playing basketball in the park.

attempt
begin
continue
hate
like
love
neglect
prefer
regret
can’t stand
stand
start

The verbs in this next, very small table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, but there will be a difference in meaning. I stopped smoking means something quite different, for instance, from I stopped to smoke. The infinitive form will usually describe a potential action.

forget remember stop

Finally, the verbs below will be followed by either a gerund or a simple verb and a second subject will be required. I saw the team losing its composure. I overheard my landlord discussing a rent increase. (I heard Bill sing/singing.) These verbs involve the senses.

Verbs Involving Senses
feel
hear
listen to
look at
notice
observe
overhear
see
watch

Verbs of perception — hear, see, watch — and a handful of other verbs — help, let, and make — will take what is called the bare infinitive, an infinitive without the particle “to.” This is true of these verbs only in the active voice.

  1. We watched him clear the table.
  2. They heard the thief crash through the door.
  3. She made me do it.
  4. We helped her finish the homework.

Using Possessives with Gerunds

Do we say “I can’t stand him singing in the shower,” or do we say “I can’t stand his singing in the shower”? Well, you have to decide what you find objectionable: is it him, the fact that he is singing in the shower, or is it the singing that is being done by him that you can’t stand? Chances are, it’s the latter, it’s the singing that belongs to him that bugs you. So we would say, “I can’t stand his singing in the shower.”

On the other hand, do we say “I noticed your standing in the alley last night”? Probably not, because it’s not the action that we noticed; it’s the person. So we’d say and write, instead, “I noticed you standing in the alley last night.” Usually, however, when a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, that noun or pronoun takes a possessive form. This is especially true of formal, academic writing.

There are exceptions to this. (What would the study of language be without exceptions?)

  • When the noun preceding the gerund is modified by other words, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.
  1. Federico was pleased by Carlos’s making the Dean’s List for the first time.
    but
  2. Federico was pleased by Carlos, his oldest son, making the Dean’s List for the first time.

When the noun preceding the gerund is plural, collective, or abstract, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.

  1. Professor Villa was amazed by her students working as hard as they did.
  2. The class working collaboratively was somebody else’s idea.
  3. It was a case of old age getting the better of them.

There are certain situations in which the possessive and the gerund create an awkward combination. This seems to be particularly true when indefinite pronouns are involved.

  1. I was shocked by somebody’s making that remark.
    This would be greatly improved by saying, instead . . .
  2. I was shocked that somebody would make that remark.

This is also true when the “owner” of the gerund comes wrapped in a noun phrase:

  • I was thankful for the guy next door shoveling snow from my driveway.

 

 

Possessive Adjectives

Definition: Possesive adjectives are used to show ownership or possession.

The possessive adjectives are:

Subject Pronoun Possessive adjectives
1

We

You

He

She

It

They

My

Our

Your

His

Her

Its

their

 

 

For example:

  • That’s my folder.
    * ” My” is an adjective which shows that I am the owner of the folder.

Notes:
A possessive adjective is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun or a noun phrase.

For example:

  • I can’t complete my assignment because I don’t have the textbook.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “my” modifies the noun “assignment”.
  • What is your phone number?
    * Here the possessive adjective “your” is used to modify the noun phrase “phone number”
  • The cat chased its ball down the stairs and into the backyard.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “its” modifies “ball”.

 

 

Prepositions-‘since’ and

What are the prepositions for and since?
The prepositions for and since express the duration of an action or situation. For example:

Paul: How long have you lived in Australia?
Jen: I have lived here for one year.

Nicole: How long have you worked downtown?
Kevin: I have worked there since 2007.

Both answers explain how long the action or situation has continued.

Here we will look at for and since only with the present perfect tense. When used with the present perfect,for and since mean that the events haven’t ended yet. So in the above examples, Jen is still in Australia and Kevin is still working downtown.

What is the sentence structure?
The structure is relatively easy. Always make sure the sentences use the present perfect, which consists ofhave + past participle. For example: I have lived in Australia for one year.

S + V + O/C  | for  | period of time

I have dated him  | for  | two months.
He has lived at home  | for  | almost one year.

S + V + O/C  | since  | starting point

I have dated him  | since  | October.
He has lived at home  | since  | last February.

In addition, the starting point may be expressed as a complete sentence in the past tense.

I have dated him  | since  | I graduated high school.
He has lived at home  | since  | he lost his job.

How are these prepositions used?
As previously stated, for and since express the duration of an action or situation. There is the added meaning that the action has continued up to now and the action will continue into the future. When you want to emphasize how long the action has continued, then use for.  When you want to emphasize when the action started, then use since. Let’s look at the following:

Hugh has studied medicine for three years.
This sentence focuses on the duration of Hugh’s studies, which is three years. He began in 2005, is still there in 2008 (now), and will continue to be there for the foreseeable future.

Hugh has studied medicine since 2005.
This sentence focuses on when Hugh started his studies, which was in 2005. Because we know when he began medical school, we also know how long he has been there.

Hugh has studied medicine since his mother died.
This sentence also focuses on the start of Hugh’s studies. The reference point is on an action rather than a date, and the description since his mother died provides additional information. Here the event (the death of Hugh’s mom) may provide the reason for his medical studies.

Is there additional information on for and since?
Yes, there is one point. For and since both place emphasis on the duration of the action, and may be used with other perfect tenses. But when used with a perfect progressive tense, a little more emphasis is placed on the action than the duration.