Author’s Note: Modal Verbs. They can be of help for the active verbs. Yet they can be a nuisance for the non-natives of English. With the words can, may, could, would, shall, should, will, must, need to, have to, might and dare to, one can have some problems making the distinction because of the many definitions and how they fit the context. We do know that there are two types of modal verbs according to many sources written by linguists: the primary type (can, must, have to, may, will and shall) that focuses on the present and future tenses and the secondary type (could, should, would, and might). In addition, each of the modals, with the exception of will and shall, focuses on the questions of ability, permission and possibility, which means each one has three definitions, one of each falling into their respective categories.
In this segment, we will look at a text, whose origins came from my father who wrote an article about missed chances in the 1990s. The text was modified to include some more details but the structure is the same as in the original. The objective is to determine which modal verb is to be used to fill in the missing gaps and why. Read the text, do the exercises that follow, then look at the answers in the wordpress version of the Files to learn more on how it works. Good luck taking the challenge! 🙂
I wish I ____________have done it. However, had I done it, my wife _______ have killed me, and I most likely would not have been any happier the next day. So it was probably the best that I didn’t do it. However, had I done it, I would not be wondering about it so much, and I knew I would be kicking myself for not doing it back in high school. It was at that time, I had my chicken-shit of a buddy Martin, who spoiled the opportunity for me by backing out the last minute. Why? I met this girl named Dorothea, a beautiful tall girl with long sandy-blond hair strolling down the backside, well-figured with fine thin muscular legs. Little did I realize is that this girl was the daughter of the mayor of a small local town in Minnesota, and my pseudo-informant friend of mine ___________ have informed me about it beforehand. Especially as my Catholic-devout grandmother once told me “Steve, you _________ not date a high-ranking government official,” she added “If you have to, you ________ date the daughter of our pastor.” My response came with “Grandma, why _________ I date a Jesus-freak when I ____________ try and marry into a highly-esteemed rich family?”
So one night, after a date with a movie, which I ___________ take Martin along to avoid trouble, we drove out to the country side. We would have gotten busy had Martin not told us every second minute that there was a car coming, despite the fact that there were only crickets chirping outside our car- the only action going on that night. Angry that I _________ not have my peace and quiet with Dorothea, I _________ promise her that we would have to meet another time, but without Martin. Unfortunately her decline in my invitation broke my heart and my friendship with the person better off wearing diapers because of his paranoia. So we parted ways, never speaking to each other…..
….until our 15-year class reunion! While I had married the pastor’s daughter, after three years in the Marines stationed in Iraq, and had three boys with her, Dorothea had just gone through three men (and having four children total) and is newly divorced. Normally in a small town setting, if you don’t want to be considered a strumpet, you ____________ abandon the relationship with your first lover. But looking like a Playboy centerfold entering the scene turns off every wife who whispers into the husband’s ears that he would be scrubbing dishes, sinks, ovens and garbage cans for a full month if there was any contact with her. Yet she does not talk to anyone and approaches me, saying “Hey there, Steve. Do you remember me?” I respond by saying “How could I not forget you?” I add insult to injury to my wife by asking her how things were. After saying I’m fine, she steps forward by lending her hand and saying “___________ you dance with me?”
Oh shit! Sandwiched between my strict Catholic wife ready to grab my family jewels and her opening a rather painful wound of regret, I __________ make a decision: her or me. I size up the situation quickly and say “I wish I __________ but I promised every dance to my wife.” I ___________ do that if I want to remain faithful to her 100%. The reaction is swift but with a small nervous laugh that gets my wife irritated. Blushing, I quickly hold out my hand to my wife asking “Shall we, my dear?” At the same time, Dorothea smiles, winks at me and walks off, while my wife slaps the hand away and asks me “Why did you laugh at me, Steve?” At that moment I ____________ escape except with a good mug of Flensburger Flotilla (a combination of beer, apple juice and a shot of rum) at the bar. I excuse myself, see Martin sitting on the stool, knock him off while calling him “Chicken shit!” and start draining the keg, in hopes I can forget the woman whom I fell in love with many years ago…..
….which unfortunately, I cannot even if I tried.
I wish I___a.____ have done it. However, had I done it, my wife ____b.____ have killed me, and I most likely would not have been any happier the next day.
a. Shall Could Would Must
b. Should Would Must Can
Little did I realize is that this girl was the daughter of the mayor of a small local town in Minnesota, and my pseudo-informant friend of mine ____c.______have informed me about it beforehand.
c. Could Should Would Can
Especially as my Catholic-devout grandmother once told me “Steve, you ____d._____date a high-ranking government official,” she added “If you_____e. , you must date the daughter of our pastor.”
d. Must Could Can Should
e. Have to Can Shall Will
My response came with “Grandma, why ______f.______I date a Jesus-freak when I _____g.______ try and marry into a highly-esteemed rich family?”
f. Have to Should Would Could Must
g. Can Could Would Should Shall
So one night, after a date with a movie, which I _____h._____ take Martin along to avoid trouble, we drove out to the country side.
h. Have to Had to Can Could Must
Angry that I _____i.______ not have my peace and quiet with Dorothea, I ____j._____ promise her that we would have to meet another time, but without Martin
i. Would Must Could Can Will
j. Have to Must Can Should Had to
Normally in a small town setting, if you don’t want to be considered strumpet, you _____k._____ abandon the relationship with your first lover.
k. Don’t have to Should not Must not Would not Could not
After saying I’m fine, she steps forward by lending her hand and saying “____l.___ you dance with me?”
l. Shall Will Can Could Must
I ____m._____make a decision: her or me.
m. Need to Must Have to Should Would
I size up the situation quickly and say “I wish I _____n._______ but I promised every dance to my wife.” I_____o.______ do that if I want to remain faithful to her 100%.
n. Can Would Could Must Will
o. Will Must Have to Should Could
At that moment I ____p._____escape except with a good mug of Flensburger Flotilla
p. Cannot Could not Must not Would not Will not