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Hi,
i would like to to know the rules that need to be followed when using the words, "would " and "could"
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Comments  (Page 3) 
Thank you. You've a nice little forum here.
Do you mean that the modals can mark a temporal category? Is that category "syntactic tense?"

Even so, I don't see how you can "inflect" a modal for anything. Inflection is morphological. Can you provide me with an example of an inflected modal aux. ?

Are you saying that the differences in form between the pairable central modals constitute inflection, and that this "inflection" marks "tense?"

can could
may might
shall should
will would

I think that must be quite wrong. "Could" and "would" can be used in a hypothetical situations with future time reference. How are they "inflected" for tense...

Could I sit here for a minute. Would you mind?

Please let me know if I am missing something.

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Hello Casi

I think this way about the tense of .

In the sense of , can be reckoned as the past form of in the meaning as well as syntactically.
(EX) I cannot swim now, but I could swim as fast as 100 m a minute when young.
(EX) He said "I can swim" ---> He told me that he could swim.
(EX) He said "I cannot see it" ---> He told me that he could not see it.

When is used to express speaker's judgment or ask hearer's judgment, as the judgment being a current judgment, we might reckon in this kind of use as a semantically present-tensed auxiliary verb like . However, syntactically, still we had better regard this kind of as a past-tensed auxiliary verb used explicitly or implicitly in combination with some unreality if clause.
(EX) Could you help me [if it were possible]?
(EX) We could meet again tomorrow [if you liked it].
(EX) I could kill him [if I were allowed to do so]
(EX) I could have avoided the accident [if I had been more careful].

paco
Cacarr, it depends really on how one defines "tense" and "inflect". The following article discusses that topic as well as mentions how syntactic tense plays a role. Most of the posters on this thread have had a chance to read it. That's not to say they agree or disagree with it. It's food for thought.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue/tense.html
"Linguists reserve the technical term "tense" for true
inflection, i.e, one that produces a real change in a single word, as in
Latin or Spanish, which are inflectional languages and have a lot of
tenses, all encompassed paradigmatically. English really has only two
actual tenses: present (go/goes), and past (went)."

This is my understanding of "tense." "Tense" is inflectional, which is to say morphological.

I think it would be useful to use some word other than "tense" when not refereing to actual inflection.

Ok, now. Show me an inflected modal. Emotion: wink

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"Linguists reserve the technical term "tense" for true
inflection, . . .


. . . I'm one, so yeah, I know. Cacarr, have you had a chance to read the article? Putting terminology aside, what is it about the distribution of modals that permits a change in time that's seemingly separate in function from tense?

I couldn't do it. (Past) Isn't 'could' the past of 'can'?
I can't do it. (Present)
I could, if you help me. (Modal)
Hi Cacarr

OED says about 'tense' as :any one of the different forms of a verb which indicate the different times at which the action or state denoted by it is viewed as happening or existing. It also says about 'inflection' as: the modification of the form of a word to express the different grammatical relations.

And the dictionary gives the inflections to as follows:

Present tense I can, thou canst, one can, we can, you can, they can
Past tense I could, thou couldst, one could, we could, you could, they could

Present tense I can, thou can, one can, we can, you can, they can
Past tense I could, thou couldst, one could, we could, you could, they could

paco
'inflection': the modification of the form of a word to express the different grammatical relations.


BINGO! And the prize goes to Paco. Emotion: smile
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"In English, modals are derived from verbs that did carry tense and take agreement markers during a much earlier stage of the language. ... It is important to emphasize to learners that English no longer inflects modals for tense or number."

{The Grammar Book}

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

JTT: We also have to be exceedingly careful what aspect of a definition it is that we're dealing with. ESLs and for that matter, ENLs who are taught that modals have tense all believe tense to mean,

"1 : a distinction of form in a verb to express distinctions of time or duration of the action or state it denotes" {from M-W online}

As I've noted, these make no difference to ENLs using language naturally but for ESLs it means that they not only make mistakes in speech but they must often miss the intended meaning if they hold to these mistaken notions.

1. I couldn't do it. (Past) Isn't 'could' the past of 'can'?

1a. I couldn't do it. (Future) Is now the past of ?

2. I can't do it. (Present)

2a. He can't have done it. (Past)

3. I could, if you help me. (Modal)

3a. I can, if you help me. (Future; just like #3 is)

I don't understand what the distinction is that you're trying to make in #3, Casi? Isn't it also a (Future)? What does (Modal) mean; aren't they all modals?
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