modal auxiliaries

S-V Agreement | Verbals | Modals | Auxiliary Verbs

Subject Verb Agreement 

Ms. Picante and Ms. Ceniza continued their report about S-V Agreement.

Ms. Picante discussed the following rules:

  • “If the subject consists of two nouns and the article the precedes each of these, the verb must be plural. But if the second noun is not preceded by the, the verb is singular.”

    Ex: The Dean and director of the university holds a conference with the student council. (dean and director pertains to only one person) 

                The cat and the dog bite the bone. (This sentence has 2 subjects)

  • If one subject is used affirmatively and other negatively, the verb agrees with the subject that is used affirmatively.”

          Ex: Your idea, not your classmates’ concepts, prevails.

  • “The verb agrees with the antecedent of the relative pronoun.”

          Ex: Sandoval is one of the researchers who live in the dormitory.

  • “Nouns in pairs take plural verbs, except if the expression a pair of, then the verb should be singular.”

         Ex: Her trousers were black with mud front and back.

               A pair of eyeglasses was bid on the researcher’s table.

  • “The word WAS replaces WERE in sentences that express a wish or factual contradictory.”

             Ex: If I were a boy. (just a wish)

Ms. Ceniza discused these exceptions about compound subjects:

“If compound subject is considered one unit or pertains to one idea, singular verb is used.

Ex: Time and effort is what the researcher needs presently.

“A compound subject joined by AND ties with a plural verb except when the subjects refer to the same person or thing.”

Ex: My English teacher and adviser is absent. (the teacher and adviser pertains to only one person)

      My English teacher and my adviser are absent. (the teacher and the adviser are two different people)

(I think, it’s just the same to the first law that Ms. Picante have discussed.)

“If compound subject is modified by each and every, singular verb is used.”

Ex: Every student and officer appears eager to listen to the speaker.

Parenthetical Expressions

-do not affect agreement. These expressions includes with, along with, as well as, in addition to, including, and accompanied by.

Ex: The instructor, as well as her class, was surprised by her report. (disregard the phrase: as well as her class)

-The phrase a number requires a plural verb, unless it pertains to an arithmetical number. The number means singular and must take a singular verb.

Ex: A number of students are watching outside.
     The number of the first student is 38.
     The number of students on the waiting list is small.

Majority and Minority

-means an unspecified, use a singular verb.

Ex: The majority holds no strong views.
      A small minority indicates that it supports the proposal.

-means a specified percentage. (singular/plural verb)

Ex: A 75% majority has/have voted against the measure.
      A 10% is/are opposed to the measure.

-mean a specific set of person, plural verb.

Ex: A majority of Canadians have voted for change.

This part is really tricky. I should analyze each sentences to know if it should take the singular or plural form of the verb.

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Originally posted by gameraboy

Action words can also deceive us. Swimming, writing, walking. We all know that these words are verbs. But, it’s not the case here! It could mean another function. These are what we call verbals.


Verbals is a form of verb that functions as something else in a sentence.

Gerunds- function as a NOUN.

Ex: Swimming is my hobby.
      She is good at painting.
      There’s no point in waiting.
      He kept on asking for money.

Note: How could we identify if that word is a gerund?
          If it could be substituted by “it”.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Participles- present and past participles, function as an adjective

Present > The wailing baby was hungry. (describing the baby)
Past> The broken glass cut my foot. (describing the glass)

Infinitives- can function as noun, adjective, and adverb.
                 - “to” + verb(base form)

Noun> I like to run.
Adverb> This is the best time to practice.
Adverb(?)> We must observe to understand. 

Okay, so verbals are playing with my mind right now.

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D-Day. Demo teaching day. 

Dark clouds were gathering as I walked towards the tricycle. The wind changed into tiny drops of rain and arrived at the school like a wet chick in a magenta dress. 

Ms.Caguil reported first. She discussed about modals, which is related to my topic, auxiliary verbs. She started her discussion by giving us an activity. List as many songs we know that contain modals. 


Modal verbs- are helping verbs which expresses the mode or manner of the actions indicated by the main verb.

VP-> modals + base form of the main verb

These are the rules in using modal verbs:

  • A modal verb does not change in form according to the number of subject; it does not end in -s even in third person.

  • A modal is always used with a verb in its basic form; the modal takes the tense while the main verb remains in dictionary form. 
    Ex: “can run” not “can ran”

  • Modals can be used alone in response to a question. 
    Ex: Q: Can you dance? > A: I can.

    Modals are joined by “not” to make it negative. This can be contracted.
    Examples: Can not > Can’t 
                      Do not > Don’t

Modal Verbs & Uses

  • Can
    >Present ability
    ExI can cook.
    Ex: I can help you with your project.
    Ex: Can I borrow your book?
    >Possibility and Conditional
    Ex: You can be at the top of your class, if you will study hard.
    Ex: Can you teach me how to drive?
    Ex: I can teach you.

    *Can is less polite.

  • Could (past form of can)
    >Ask permission
    Ex: Could I use your pen?
    >Make a request
    Ex: Could you give me his number?
    >Express a possibility 
    Ex:I could be there.

  • May
    >Polite request or permission 
    Ex: May I borrow your notes?
    Ex: I may be able to help you after my class.
    >Express a wish
    Ex: May you have a long life.

  • Might
    >Express a possibility 
    Ex: I might be late tomorrow.
    Ex: You might want to join our group.

  • Must
    >Strong obligation
    Ex: People must pay taxes.
    Ex: You must brush your teeth every after meal.

  • Shall
    >Formal invitation
    Ex: Shall we go now?
    >Future action
    Ex: I shall return.

    *Shall is more forceful than will.
    *Shall is commonly used in British language.

  • Should (can be a substitute of ought to)
    >Mild Obligation
    Ex: You should always wear helmet.
    >Recommendation/ Advice
    Ex:You should go on a diet.
    Ex: He should be around soon.

  • Will
    >Future intent
    Ex: I will go to Paris next year.
    Ex: The weatherman reported that it will rain hard in the afternoon. 
    >Voluntary action
    Ex: I will go now.

  • Would
    >Past ability 
    Ex: When she was young, she would do gymnastics.

    Ms. Joyce presented the report well and gave enough examples for us to understand. I also enjoyed eating her prize, chips, but I think my bladder didn’t.

Auxiliary Verbs

Originally posted by johansebastianruby

Help! Help! It’s my report! Oops! Even verbs need some help. Thanks to auxiliary verbs or also called helping verbs.

Helping verbs have no meaning on their own. Auxiliary verbs add functional or grammatical meaning to the clauses in which they appear. They are there to perform their functions in several different ways:

  • By expressing tense ( providing a time reference, i.e. past, present, or future)
  • Grammatical aspect (expresses how verb relates to the flow of time)
  • Modality (quantifies verbs)
  •  Voice (describes the relationship between the action expressed by the verb and the participants identified by the verb’s subject, object, etc.)
  • Adds emphasis to a sentence

Auxiliary verbs are divided into two types:

The first one is the

Primary Auxiliary Verbs:

  • be
  • have
  • do

*Note that we can use these three verbs as helping verbs, or linking verbs, or even main verbs.

  • Be (is, was, are, were, be, been, being)
    to make continuous tenses
    Ex: He is watching the television.
    They are eating my cookies.

    > to make the sentence in a passive voice 
    Ex: Small fish are eaten by big fish.
          The letter was written by Georgiana.

  • Have (has, have, had)
    > to make perfect tenses
    Ex: I have finished my homework.
          Isha had eaten her lunch when I woke up.

  • Do (do, does, did)
    >  to make negatives 
    Ex: I do not like him.
          She doesn’t eat vegetables.

    *NOT is not an auxiliary verb. It is only used to negate statements.

    > to ask questions
    Ex: Do you want some coffee?
          Did you eat your breakfast?

    > to show emphasis
    Ex: I do want you to pass the test.

    *Do (does, did)+  always use the base form of the verb

The second type is


Again? Yes. A modal helping verb expresses necessity or possibility, and changes the main verb in that sense. These are the modal verbs:

  • can, could
  • may, might
  • will, would,
  • shall, should
  • must, ought to 

    But, not all modals are auxiliary verbs! For example:
    Be able to is not an auxiliary verb (it uses the verb be as a main verb). 
    Have to is not an auxiliary verb (it uses the verb have as a main verb).

    I was stuttering while reporting but still, I am thankful for the support of my classmates who recited and who took down some notes. I should’ve ended the discussion with two fun activities, but unfortunately, there is only 2 minutes left on the clock, so I just let them ate the cookies, which should be the prize for the winners. I am happy that they enjoyed it. 

    Finally, this is the taste of FREEDOM, free from stress and overthinking about your report. 

The difference between epistemic & deontic, necessity & possibility, in an overlapping diagram

This is a handy reference diagram I made way back in grad school for remembering the difference between epistemic necessity, deontic possibility, and other basic types of modality, and I’ve finally put it online. 

Here’s how it works: 

In linguistics, modals (aka modal verbs, modal auxiliaries) refer to words like can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, must which indicate likelihood, permission, obligation, and ability. The concept of modality includes both modal auxiliaries as well as longer constructions, like ought, have to, be obliged to, be able to, be capable of, it’s possible that, it’s necessary for __ to, it’s obligatory to, it’s permissible that, possibly, necessarily, maybe, perhaps, and so on.   

In the diagram, the blue areas are epistemic modality (according to evidence, reasoning, or beliefs), the red areas are deontic modality (according to a set of rules or desires), the dark areas are necessity (in all possible worlds), the light areas are possibility (in at least one possible world). Every area has both a colour (blue/red) and a shade (light/dark) because modality is made up of a modal base (according to what, on the basis of what) and a modal force (how strong is the result). 

Here are some examples for each of the regions.  

Dark blue is epistemic necessity

  1. “It must be raining outside (I can hear the rain).” In all worlds consistent with my beliefs, it is raining outside. 
  2. “When you add vinegar to baking soda, it should fizz.” In all worlds consistent with my reasoning about chemical properties, vinegar added to baking soda fizzes. 

Light blue is epistemic possibility

  1. “It may be raining outside (I heard that it was going to rain today)” In at least one world consistent with my beliefs, it is raining outside. 
  2. “The doctor has said, they can go to the bathroom.” In at least one world consistent with the doctor’s assessment of their physical capabilities, they go to the bathroom. 

Dark red is deontic necessity

  1. “It must rain this week (in order for the crops not to spoil)” In all worlds consistent with my desires, it rains this week. 
  2. “You should drive under the speed limit.” In all worlds consistent with the rules for proper driving, you drive under the speed limit. 

Light red is deontic possibility

  1. “It may rain this week (as far as I’m concerned, I’m not planning any activities that would be spoiled by the rain so I don’t care).” In at least one world consistent with my desires, it rains this week. 
  2. “The teacher has said, they can go to the bathroom.” In at least one world consistent with the teacher’s rules for the classroom, they go to the bathroom.  

Notice that English is generally good at making distinctions between necessity and possibility but bad at making distinctions between epistemic and deontic, which must be cleared up via context. Some languages do make straightforward lexical distinctions between various flavours of modality like epistemic and deontic. 

Also note that more advanced theories of modality distinguish between more types of modality than epistemic and deontic (such as circumstantial, dynamic, logical, metaphysical, ability, teleological, bouletic, etc) but this is a basic introduction to making these distinctions at all, so I’m not going to get into them here. If you want to expand the diagram yourself, however, you could assign these other types of modality other colours, as long as you give them each two shades. (And in case anyone reading this already knows a lot about modality, I’d also like to point out that the Wikipedia article on linguistic modality is in dire need of improvement.)