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Dear teachers,

Here is another exercise; would you please correct it?

Replace the words in bold.

“Wonderful, it’s Sunday and a) not necessary for me to get up at 7 o’clock. b) I’ll possibly stay in bed a bit longer although c) I think the children are probably awake now and I’ll d) be obliged to get their breakfast soon. They e) refuse to make it for themselves. f) It would be a good idea for me to get up immediately because g) perhaps they will wreck the house. However, it is still very early and they h) are probably not very hungry yet. i) It would have been a good idea if I had put out the cornflakes and milk yesterday evening. But all this thinking and not acting is really silly. j) It is really necessary for me to get up this minute. Now where are my bedroom slippers? – That damn dog k) has probably hidden them again! l) It would be a good idea for us to train it better, but I suppose we m) weren’t obliged to buy it in the first place, and after all, it’s only a puppy.
Oh, I’d forgotten! n) It’s just possible that Alan will be back from his business trip today – marvellous! One adult isn’t enough to look after four children, a puppy, and three goldfish! Why o) did he refuse to take me with him? p) It was possible for us to get his mother to come and look after the children. Never again!

ANSWERS :

a) it’s Sunday and I DON’T NEED TO get up…
b) I MAY / CAN stay in bed a bit longer…
c) the children MAY / MIGHT (?) be awake…
d) I MUST get their breakfast…
e) WON'T make it…
f) I SHOULD get up…
g) they MAY / MIGHT wreck…
h) they MAY / MIGHT not be very hungry…
i) I SHOULD’ve put out…
j) I really NEED TO get up…
k) that dog MAY have hidden…
l) we SHOULD train it…
m) we NEED’T HAVE / DIDN’T HAVE to buy it…
n) Alan MIGHT be back…
o) why WOULDn’t he take me…
p) we COULD’ve got his mother…

Many thanks.
Best regards,
Hela
1 2
Comments  
“Wonderful, it’s Sunday and a) not necessary for me to get up at 7 o’clock. b) I’ll possibly stay in bed a bit longer although c) I think the children are probably awake now and I’ll d) be obliged to get their breakfast soon. They e) refuse to make it for themselves. f) It would be a good idea for me to get up immediately because g) perhaps they will wreck the house. However, it is still very early and they h) are probably not very hungry yet. i) It would have been a good idea if I had put out the cornflakes and milk yesterday evening. But all this thinking and not acting is really silly. j) It is really necessary for me to get up this minute. Now where are my bedroom slippers? – That *** dog k) has probably hidden them again! l) It would be a good idea for us to train it better, but I suppose we m) weren’t obliged to buy it in the first place, and after all, it’s only a puppy.
Oh, I’d forgotten! n) It’s just possible that Alan will be back from his business trip today – marvellous! One adult isn’t enough to look after four children, a puppy, and three goldfish! Why o) did he refuse to take me with him? p) It was possible for us to get his mother to come and look after the children. Never again!

JTT: CAVEAT: The answers I've supplied are what I've determined are the most natural given the dialogue as I perceive it. This doesn't mean that my choices are the only possibilities. Some other modals/semi-modals are close in meaning and with small changes in the situation or the word choice of the "speaker", another modal/semi-modal could become more natural.

ANSWERS :

a) it’s Sunday and I DON’T NEED TO get up…
OK or I DON'T HAVE TO get up

b) I MAY / CAN stay in bed a bit longer…
COULD

c) the children MAY / MIGHT (?) be awake…
SHOULD or stay with PROBABLY ARE. [should & probably/likely are used in differing circumstances, ie. they are not always interchangeable]

The modals/semi-modals occupy roughly this range, Hela. I'm not suggesting that the numbers are exactly correct or that it's this easy to peg their meanings. This just gives ESLs a framework to get a firmer grasp on their relative positioning with respect to levels of certainty.

100% certainty - will/be going to/are, is, am
90-99% - must / [almost certainly + 100% certainty verb]
51-89% [probably/likely + 100% certainty verb] or should
26-50% may
1-25% might

d) I MUST get their breakfast…
Sounds more BrE to me. NaE - HAVE TO get ...

e) WON'T make it…
OK

f) I SHOULD get up…
OK

g) they MAY / MIGHT wreck…
Either one is OK but there are differences.

h) they MAY / MIGHT not be very hungry…
SEE c).

i) I SHOULD’ve put out…
OK

j) I really NEED TO get up…
OK or I really HAVE TO or I really MUST

k) that dog MAY have hidden…
SEE c).

l) we SHOULD train it…
OK

m) we NEED’T HAVE / DIDN’T HAVE to buy it…
or we DIDN'T NEED to buy it [NEEDN'T HAVE is more BrE and it can't use "to buy it"; it requires "bought it" ]

n) Alan MIGHT be back…
or COULD, even MAY with some reservations.

o) why WOULDn’t he take me…
OK

p) we COULD’ve got his mother…
OK
Thanks JTT,

1) I was going to suggest :

d) I WILL HAVE TO get their breakfast (you accepted that one)
f) I HAD BETTER get up
k) that dog COULD HAVE hidden
p) we MIGHT HAVE got his mother

What do you think ?

2) British grammar books seem not to make any difference between "DON'T HAVE TO, DON'T NEED TO and NEED NOT + bare infinitive" (= in the present tense); but say that in the past if " DIDN'T HAVE to and DIDN'T NEED to mean exactly the same (= unecessary action in the past wether it occurred or not), NEEDN'T HAVE + perfect infinitive refers to an unecessary action that did occur in the past.

Is that right ?

Many thanks,
Hela
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Thanks JTT,

You're welcome, Hela.

Hela:
I was going to suggest :

d) I WILL HAVE TO get their breakfast (you accepted that one)

and I’ll d) be obliged to get their breakfast soon.

JJT: My read on BrE suggests that 'must' is more likely here but for NaE, 'have to' is much preferred.

=

f) I HAD BETTER get up

f) It would be a good idea for me to get up immediately because

JTT: Your choice, "I had better get up" is a stronger form of "I should get up". But given that the following is still quite speculative, ie. low in certainty, "may wreck the house", 'should' probably is better. If these thoughts went thru the woman's head;

"I should get up because they may wreck the house, naaaah, I'll sleep for another hour."

{nestles down in her pillow and bad thoughts of crayons on the walls, the fish tank knocked over, etc. come into her head}

"On second thought, I'd better get up."



k) that dog COULD HAVE hidden

That *** dog k) has probably hidden them again! l)

JTT: Certainly, you could use 'COULD HAVE hidden', Hela but the meaning is not the same. 'could have +PP' means "it was possible that ...". It doesn't state any discernible level of certainty. 'probably' states a fairly strong to a very strong level of certainty. Note where 'probably' was placed in the percent [%] scale I put in my first posting.

=

p) we MIGHT HAVE got his mother

p) It was possible for us to get his mother to come and look after the children.

JTT: Again, of course 'MIGHT HAVE gotten' is okay. But know that 'might' expresses a definite range of certainty and that range goes from 'a miniscule chance to a pretty low chance', whereas 'could + have +PP' only says, "it was possible.

With the right intonation, 'could' can suggest a very high level of certainty.

We COULD have gotten his mother to watch the kids ...

which suggests almost a foregone conclusion,

or a much lower level of certainty;

We cooooould have gotten his mother to ...

which suggests a very weak possibility.

It seems, from my reading that this lady views the possibility as more a stronger one than a weaker one.




Hela:
British grammar books seem not to make any difference between "DON'T HAVE TO, DON'T NEED TO and NEED NOT + bare infinitive" (= in the present tense); but say that in the past if " DIDN'T HAVE to and DIDN'T NEED to mean exactly the same (= unecessary action in the past wether it occurred or not), NEEDN'T HAVE + perfect infinitive refers to an unecessary action that did occur in the past.

Is that right ?

JTT: Sometimes, in some situations, two structures seem identical in intent. This leads us to believe that they are identical in meaning. These 'rules' you've quoted are without context, so it's hard to say if this is the case all the time. I'll need to cogitate on this a bit, and maybe get Mr P, CJ, Julie and Pieanne and others take on this.
***

What is vitally important to remember, Hela and other ESLs, is that modals and semi-modals are used to express PERSONAL feelings and emotions. That means that if you have five different people speculating on some unknown event, eg.,

"Will the US elect a Republican president in 2008?"

you COULD get a might, a may, a likely/probably, an almost certainly, a definitely. So too, in these exercises of Hela's. I can't possibly know exactly what's in anyone's mind, because I don't know all the circumstances, and even if I did, I wouldn't know for sure how any given individual will react to that set of circumstances.

***
Thanks again, JTT.

You understand, though, that in tests we will have to choose the modal that fits best to/in (?) the context.

See you,
Hela
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Thanks again, JTT.

JT: You're welcome, Hela.

You understand, though, that in tests we will have to choose the modal that fits best to/in (?) the context.

JT: I don't see how this is any different than in life, Hela. Wouldn't we always want to make the choice that best fits the context.

"... the modal that fits best to/in (?) the context." --> "... the modal that best fits the context."
Thank you JTT for correcting me. If I may ask, would you please have a look at my ohter posts entitled "fill in the blanks" and "grammar exercises" ?

Best regards,
Hela
Could you provide links please, Hela.

By the by, is your name/pseudonym pronounced hela or heyla?
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