Modal Expression, especially the Interrogative or Negative, can give us some trouble, unless we approach the matter as science in a field: we analyze the molecules, see how they are doing, and make a model.


We can recur to CHAPTER 5, as well as compare APPENDIX 4.


54. We CANNOT skip the exercises.


55. We MAY NOT skip the exercises.


56. We WILL NOT skip the exercises.


57. We SHOULD NOT skip the exercises.


58. We OUGHT NOT TO skip the exercises.


59. We SHALL NOT skip the exercises.


60. We MUST NOT skip the exercises.


The form SHALL NOT may imply a conclusion, a decision ― more often in British English than in American, however. American English has the Modal WILL for resolves.


The Modal CAN attracts the particle NOT directly. They become one word, CANNOT. We may come upon the form CAN NOT in historic texts, as the GETTYSBURG ADDRESS.




President Abraham Lincoln gave the speech at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863.


The form “can not” is rarely used today. Feel welcome to read the ADDRESS as well as to do the VOLUNTARY EXTRA PRACTICE.


In the Affirmative, MUST NOT can mean that something is forbidden or strongly discommended. NEED can take on the regular negative. The auxiliary is the verb to do.


61. We DO NOT NEED to memorize dictionaries.


We can use the short form DON’T, when our contexts are not formal.
61a. We DON’T NEED to memorize dictionaries.


NEED can take a Modal negation, too. The Modal form may be more emphatic.


61b. We NEEDN’T memorize dictionaries.
(There is definitely no need to memorize dictionaries.)


HAVE TO takes the regular negative.


62. We DO NOT HAVE TO memorize dictionaries.
62a. We DON’T HAVE TO memorize dictionaries.


Our paths can diverge for NEED in the auxiliary PAST.


63. You DIDN’T NEED to do this.
(Something didn’t need to be done and it was not done.)


63a. You NEEDN’T HAVE done this.
(You did, but you COULD HAVE left it alone ― the thinking is about a hypothesis.)


Let us tackle the Interrogative. This is the Modal to move here.
CHAPTER 5 shows Inversion, along with the Negative Interrogative.


64. We CAN work a lot.
CAN we work a lot?


65. We MAY work a lot.
MAY we work a lot?


66. We WILL work a lot.
WILL we work a lot?


67. We SHOULD work a lot.
SHOULD we work a lot?


68. We OUGHT TO work a lot.
OUGHT we TO work a lot?


69. We SHALL work a lot.
SHALL we work a lot?


70. We MUST work a lot.
MUST we work a lot?


In Negative questions, the linguistic chemistry may depend on the form we use, short or full.


71. CAN we NOT work a lot?
71a. CAN’T we work a lot?


72. MAY we NOT work a lot?
72a. MAYN’T we work a lot?


73. WILL we NOT work a lot?
73a. WON’T we work a lot?


74. SHOULD we NOT work a lot?
74a. SHOULDN’T we work a lot?


75. OUGHT we NOT TO work a lot?
75a. OUGHTN’T we TO work a lot?


76. SHALL we NOT work a lot?
76a. SHAN’T we work a lot?


In questions, MUST NOT may ask about the proper course of things.


77. MUST we NOT work a lot?
77a. MUSTN’T we work a lot?


HAVE TO takes the regular Negative Interrogative.


78. DO we NOT HAVE TO work a lot?
78a. DON’T we HAVE TO work a lot?


Let us catch on to the Modal NEED in the grammatical PAST. It behaves more and more like a regular verb, in contemporary American.


79. DID you NOT NEED to work a lot?
79a. DIDN’T you NEED to work a lot?


Please compare,
80. NEEDN’T you HAVE worked a lot?


Expression 80 would be so rare that an American might consider it incorrect. Why is this? Asking questions involves making hypotheses.


Unless we ask a question for no reason or purpose and expect no answer at all, we make our questions thinking about some PROBABILITY at least.


Beside inversion, we can use the question mark or intonation alone, to make a question.


Let us regard language economy. In a language information pool, we may not need to provide information more than once.


80a. DIDN’T you NEED / HAVE TO work a lot?


An American could consider an alternate incorrect,
80b. *MUSTN’T you HAVE worked a lot?


NEED and MUST express a high degree of CONTINGENCY or CERTAINTY. Hypotheses with them might vary from those with other Modals: so many things SHOULD BE DONE, and they never are (!)


With high CONTINGENCY or CERTAINTY, we can net the hypothetical time: we have a strong hypothesis in the Modal alone. Here is our model (click to enlarge).




Please compare the absolutely correct in American,
81. SHOULDN’T you HAVE read this all?



There is a structure close to the Modal verbs MUST, NEED, OUGHT TO or SHOULD. It is TO BE (SUPPOSED) TO.


82. You WEREN’T (SUPPOSED) TO get the gizmos.



We can recur to the structure later in the grammar journey. Let us now exercise our brains in