Unit 80 Modals * negation, questions

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Main points

* You use negative words with modals to make negative clauses.

* Modals go in front of the subject in questions.

* You never use two modals together.

1 To make a clause negative, you put a negative word immediately after the modal.
You must not worry.
I can never remember his name.
He ought not to have done that.

`Can not’ is always written as one word, `cannot’.
I cannot go back.

However, if `can’ is followed by `not only’, `can’ and `not’ are not joined.
We can not only book your flight for you, but also advise you about hotels.

2 In spoken English and informal written English, `not’ is often shortened to `-n’t’ and added to the modal. The following modals are often shortened in this way:

could not* couldn’t
should not* shouldn’t
must not* mustn’t
would not* wouldn’t

We couldn’t leave the farm.
You mustn’t talk about Ron like that.

Note the following irregular short forms:

shall not* shan’t
will not* won’t
cannot* can’t

I shan’t let you go.
Won’t you change your mind?
We can’t stop now.

`Might not’ and `ought not’ are sometimes shortened to `mightn’t’ and `oughtn’t’.

Note that `may not’ is very rarely shortened to `mayn’t’ in modern English.

3 To make a question, you put the modal in front of the subject.
Could you give me an example?
Will you be coming in later?
Shall I shut the door?

Modals are also used in question tags.
See Units 7 and 8 for more information.

4 You never use two modals together. For example, you cannot say `He will can come’. Instead you can say `He will be able to come’.
I shall have to go.
Your husband might have to give up work.

5 Instead of using modals, you can often use other verbs and expressions to make requests, offers, or suggestions, to express wishes or intentions, or to show that you are being polite.

For example, `be able to’ is used instead of `can’, `be likely to’ is used instead of `might’, and `have to’ is used instead of `must’.
All members are able to claim expenses.
I think that we are likely to see more of this.

These expressions are also used after modals.
I really thought I wouldn’t be able to visit you this week.

6 `Dare’ and `need’ sometimes behave like modals.
See Unit 72 for information on `dare’ and Units 71 and 90 for information on `need’.

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