Mood and Modality



Indicative commits the speaker/writer to telling facts/the truth.

Imperative allows the speaker/writer to give orders, usually to addressee: 2nd person: do it! sometimes also to first person plural: let‘s do it!

Subjunctive indicates that the speaker/writer is uncertain/has doubts about what s/he wants to say.

mandative subjunctive: Konjunktiv bei Forderung, Vorschlag, Auftrag
formulaic subjunctive: Konjunktiv in erstarrten Formeln
were - subjunctive: Konjunktiv mit were
modal past: Prateritum als Ausdruck des Irrealis

which subjunctive?
1 I suggest that you were feeling overtired.
2 We suggest that this applicant apply next year.
3 If I were feeling overtired, I wouldn't go on.
4 I would much rather we stayed at home this evening.
5 We were hoping you could come and have lunch with us tomorrow.
6 The Committee recommends that the annual subscription be increased to £3.
7 It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reduce expenditure and that every member of the staff economize wherever possible.
8 Be that as it may, our expenditure is bound to increase.
9 By the time we stopped, we had driven six hundred miles.
10 Is it not time we set our own house in order?


Modal auxiliaries


Meanings of modal auxiliaries
Ability: I can see pefectly well without glasses
Permission :You can/could/may borrow my car.
Possibility :Anyone can make a mistake
Come early, and we can talk
Adam may/might know the answer
Obligation :I have got to/must/need to/should/ought to pay the bills
Logical necessity :There must be some mistake
Tentative inference: The weather ought to/should be better soon

Modal aux and lexical verbs
Replace the expressions underlined by modal auxiliary structures.
1 John is capable of typing very fast.
2 I know how to answer this question now.
3 I was never able to understand a word he said.
4 No one was able to solve the problem.
5 It is just possible that what you say is true.
6 I suggest I open the window.
7 If you are willing to come with us, we shall be delighted.
8 Would you like to have a seat?
9 Someone keeps putting his coat on my peg.
10 Grandfather has got into the habit of sitting looking at this view all day long.
11 I had a habit of hitting the wrong key of the typewriter.
12 Grandfather had got into the habit of sitting in that chair for hours.
13 I advise you to read this book.
14 It is obligatory for us to read it.
15 You are prohibited from smoking here.
16 Are you able to do this without help?
17 Is it advisable for us to wait?
18 It is not compulsory for us to attend.
20 Yes, I'm quite sure that i s the one.

Alternative modal auxiliaries
Is there another modal auxiliary? Or is there not alterantive? Could it be left out?
I Can I borrow your pen please?
2 I may be late home tonight.
3 I could never play the banjo properly.
4 We might go to the concert if there's time.
5 We shall let you know our decision soon.
6 The vendor shall maintain the equipment in good repair.
7 Shall I come with you?
8 Will you have a piece of cake?
9 Would you mind shutting the door?
10 You should do as he says.
11 It is odd that you should say that.
12 We should love to go abroad.
13 If you should change your mind, please let us know.
14 If you would change this book, I should be very grateful.
15 If there were a fire, I know what I should do, but I'm not sure what I would do.
16 You ought to see him act.
17 There may have been an accident.
18 You must be more careful.

Ambiguity and modal aux
Paraphrase the different meanings:
1 Henry can drive my car now.
2 Anyone can make mistakes.
3 We could go to the theatre.
4 You may be out late this evening.
5 I should be pleased to see him.
6 They should be home now.
7 You will sit there.
8 You must be very quick.
9 The guests will have arrived.
10 Shall we see him this evening?