General Writing and Grammar Help/grammar

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Question
sir, I am a bit surprised because I found some of the structures like the ones given below from British Council web site and some other famous web sites.

we will meet again next week. By the end of this week, we may/might/should have finished the work.

Are these sentences wrong sir?. can't they be used?.

thank you very much sir.

Answer
Dear Buddhi:

  sir, I am a bit surprised because I found some of the structures like the ones given below from British Council web site and some other famous web sites.

we will meet again next week. By the end of this week, we may/might/should have finished the work.

Are these sentences wrong sir?. can't they be used?.

*** There is great confusion about these verbs.  Sometimes they indicate tenses:  present, past, and future.  At other times, they are called "modal" verbs, which are essentially verbs that have little or nothing to do with tenses.  They are used to express the "mood" or "condition" of the main verb.

Let's look at your two sentences --

We will meet again next week.  In this sentence, the verb phrase "will meet" is the future tense.  It refers to something that WILL happen in the future.

By the end of this week, we may/might/should have finished the work

In this sentence, the future is foretold by the phrase "by the end of this week."  There are three modal verbs:  may, might, and should.

"May" means that there is a possibility that the work will be finished.

"Might" means the same thing as "may," but "might" is a stronger word.  For instance, "we might win" seems more of a possibility than "we may win."

The modal word "should" is the strongest of all.  Using it, like "may" and "might," does NOT indicate a certainty, that the work WILL ACTUALLY BE DONE.  

As I said, these words are MODAL auxiliary verbs.  They do NOT express the ACTUAL happenings.
They tell of the POSSIBLE happenings.

If you are absolutely certain that the specific event WILL TAKE place, you would not use
any of these three modal verbs.

You would write a simple, INDICATIVE sentence:  At the end of this week, the work WILL BE
FINISHED.

Buddhi, the "moods" of the English language are difficult to understanding, especially the "subjunctive mood."

Here are good web sites that MAY help you:

http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.html

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/verbtenseintro.html

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/quizzes/tenses/tenses_frame.html

*** Look for "subjunctive mood" or search site for specific modal verbs, such as "should."
The last site has little tests for you to assess your knowledge.

Please get back to me with further questions.

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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