Use of modal verbs in narration

I often come across the following usage of modal verbs in novels: “But Turing would die before completing and publishing his final musings”. Why not simple past like “But Turing died before completing and publishing his final musings.”? What is the name for this construction? Edit: I realized that I have chosen not the right … Read more

Why can’t the word “can” be used in future tense (will can)?

I’m curious about why the English word can cannot be used in future tense (e.g. will can). An example unrelated to English is French term je pourrai, but that’s exactly what I mean. Compare German ich werde können which translates exactly to I will be able, and literally to I will can, given that können … Read more

Antonym of “assume” or; a synonym of “assume” and its antonym

As the title implies, I am looking for a good, simple, single word antonym of “assume”. Alternatively, if no good antonym exists that satisfies the requirements below, I am also open to suggestions for a synonym of “assume” and its antonym. EDIT: the definition of “assume” here is that of “belief”. The specific context is … Read more

Past modals and the passive: which one is correct?

Considering easily as an attitude or manner adverb, which of the following is correct? He could easily have been killed. or He could have been easily killed. Answer According to the Cambridge dictionary, adverbs of manner “usually go in end position. They sometimes go in mid position if the adverb is not the most important … Read more

Hybrid of “can” and “may”?

Not a duplicate! Here are the differences: I already read the other question while researching prior to asking this, and it didn’t answer my question. Come on, you gotta believe me! The other question asks about what the most appropriate word to use in a restaurant setting is. This question asks about what the logically … Read more

Modal verbs in tag line

I work in one of the industries where there’s a lack of trust across the board. You know the type: Used car salesmen Banks/bankers Estate agents The way I look at it, you can ignore it completely or embrace it. We think we’re different and choose the latter approach. With that in mind, we’re looking … Read more

“Can I” vs “May I” in restaurant setting when ordering

A while back, while we were getting fast food, my friend commented on my usage of “can” versus “may” when asking to take my order. I said: Can I have a ……. and my friend argued you’re supposed to say May I have a ……. Although I had never thought much about it, and at … Read more

“I can’t be available” vs “I will not be available”

I had written “I can’t be available from 9-10.” My friends suggested that I rewrite it as “I can’t be available from 9-10”. Both answers were not satisfying me. I had searched on the internet for correct form sentence. The suggestion is I need to use the verb will rather than can. I can’t be … Read more