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Can't Stop Now! - Negative Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about the “Can't Stop Now Quiz” but no doubt your teachers will talk about “Negative Modal Auxiliary Verbs”. If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

As if you hadn't got enough problems learning about modal auxiliary verbs we are now going to burden you down with NEGATIVE modal auxiliaries! It really isn't as complicated as it might appear. For instance the little word "can't" is a negative modal auxiliary - its positive counterpart is "can". So you see, you have probably been using this type of word without even knowing what it is called.

  1. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    'Will you help me please? My computer ... ... find a wi-fi signal.'
    The computer has not (yet) been able to do this.
  2. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    'You ... ... open your eyes until I've counted up to one hundred!'
    You COULD open your eyes of course, but that would spoil your game with the child. 'Mustn't' is the child's clear, simple way of defining what is wrong behaviour.
  3. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    Unless the weather clears up, I ... ... cut the grass tomorrow.
    The 'can' verb (inconveniently!) does not have a simple future form. We have to say 'I will not be able to (do) ...' .
    Another way of dealing with this is to use the present form instead (as in Answer 1). It isn't quite logical, but it's clear and easy. Many other languages use the present in place of the future sometimes; English is not alone!
  4. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    'We would have let some fresh air into the room, but we ... ... discover how to open the window.'
    'Couldn't' is the past form of 'can't', so that is the best answer here.
  5. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    There are many important things that you ... ... do legally in Britain until you are 18 years old.
    You may in fact be able to do them before you are officially old enough, but you CANNOT (or would not) then be doing them within the law.
    Just because the law says people 'must not ...' (Answer 2), does not mean they won't try ~ and they may succeed in doing it!
  6. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    'I'd love to come to your party, but I ... ... be in Liverpool next weekend.'
    This suggests a fair chance that you will not be available, even though you might like to be. It is a polite way of showing uncertainty in such a situation.
  7. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    Even the best sat-nav in the world ... ... tell you when the road is flooded.
    ( Flooded = covered with rainwater, when a river is too full and has 'burst its banks' )
    It 'will not' (or 'will not be able to') give you this information.
    Yes, the weather in Britain can give us some problems ... and we can't always be ready for everything! We know of a road near Oxford where the ground was washed out from under the surface, and the local authorities COULDN'T ( = didn't manage to) repair the damage until about a year later.
  8. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    'How have you been recently, after those weeks when you were ill?'
    'Oh, I ... ... grumble!'
    ( Grumble = complain ; this is the phrase that some older people use when they think they have no right to feel sorry for themselves! )
    'Mustn't grumble' = 'It would not be appropriate for a British person like me to say they felt uncomfortable'!
  9. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    There ... ... be any newspapers on Christmas Day.
    This is a simple statement of fact.
    Answer 3 sounds a bit like Oliver Cromwell, the 17th-century Puritan, who actually banned Christmas for a few years ('People shall not, and must not' have fun on a religious festival day in the middle of winter' etc.)
    Answer 4 suggests not that it would be wrong for us to have papers, but that it is impossible, and perhaps rather silly to think that there ought to be any.
  10. Pick the best word (or words) to fit in the blank/s.
    People without a special badge or document ... ... park their cars in spaces that are reserved for disabled drivers.
    As with Question 5, the law can say what it likes, but some people will probably still 'take advantage' and leave their cars where they aren't supposed to.
    The 'should not' suggests that it is morally wrong, even if it is physically possible to commit this offence.

Author: Ian Miles

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