Thursday, 11 August 2016

Modal Verbs of Deductions for English Learners





Modal verbs of deduction are used to make guesses about what we don't necessarily know. For example, if you aren't sure where your friend is today you might say:
She must be at work.
She might be having a meeting.
She could be working on a project.
She can't be taking the day off.

In each of these cases, you guess at what you believe to be true, but you are not 100% sure. If you are sure, then all you need is to use the present or present continuous form. For example,
She's at work.
She's having a meeting.
She's working on a project today.
She isn't taking the day off.

Following you will find short definitions and explanations for example sentences using both present and past modal verbs of deduction.

Present Modal Verbs of Deduction

Use these forms to provide explanations for something that is happening today or for current situations.
must be / do / go / etc. 
I'm almost 100% certain that it's true.
He must be at the bank. - He told me earlier, so I'm fairly certain he is there.
They must do that type of work. - It makes good sense that they would do that type of work, but I'm 100% sure.
Susan must go to an expensive hairdresser. -  I'm 90% sure because her hair is very nice, but I don't know for certain.
might / may be / do / go / etc.
It's a good possibility.
Peter might come to dinner tonight. - I'm not sure, but I know he would like to come.
They may want to have dinner when they get here. - I know they are traveling, so I think it's a good possibility.
She might be a good choice for the job. - I think she's got the right qualifications, but I don't know who they will hire.
could  be / do / go / etc.
It's one of many possibilities.
We could go to dinner now. - That's my idea, it's possible, but I don't know if others want to do it.
They could be doing homework now. - It's a possibility, but I know they like to do many other things.
She could be at school. - Or she could be in a restaurant, or maybe at work, there are many possibilities.
can't / couldn't be / do / go / etc. 
I'm almost certain that something isn't true.
She can't be cooking chicken. - I know she hates chicken.
They couldn't be doing their homework. - It's a Saturday night. They never do homework then.
Alan can't have time off. - He rarely gets time off, and he just went on a vacation last month. 

Past Modal Verbs of Deduction

You can also use modal verbs of deduction to think about reasons why something happened in the past. Here are the past tense modal verbs of deduction forms.
must have done / been / gone / etc.
I'm almost 100% certain that it explains what happened in the past.
She must have done her homework. She never forgets. - I'm sure she did her homework because she always does it.
Peter must have gone to a doctor if he felt bad. He always goes to the doctor when he feels bad. - I know Peter well, so I know he probably went to see a doctor. 
Sharon must have been hurt by her boyfriend. - I know they broke up, so I'm sure she felt badly when it happened. 
might have been / done / gone / etc. 
There's a good possibility that it explains what happened in the past.
They might have gone out for dinner. - They're not here and that's a good possibility.
She might have been ill. - I think that's a good guess because I know her health isn't the best.
Andrew might have done the yard work. - I know Andrew is one of the people who usually do the yard work.
could have done / been / gone / etc.
It's one explanation for what happened in the past
They could have been lost. - It's a possible explanation why they had problems.
Mark could have done the work. Mark's one of the people who do this type of work.
Jennifer could have gone. - Going home was one of the possibilities
can't (UK English)  / couldn't (US English) have been / done / gone / etc. 
'm sure that it's not an explanation for what happened in the past.
They can't have bought that car. - I know that they didn't want to buy that car.
Mary couldn't have finished the report. - I know she didn't have enough time to finish the report.
Jason can't have forgotten the appointment. - I know that Jason never forgets appointments. 

Modal Verb Types

Modal verbs are similar to auxiliary verbs and are used in the positive, question and negative forms. Pure modal verbs are used in place of auxiliary verbs such as 'do', 'did' or 'have'. Here are a few examples:
Can you play volleyball?
He shouldn't go outside today.
I must leave soon to catch the train.
May I come with you?
Pure modal verbs include:
can / should / must / may 
However, there are many forms that are used in a similar manner to the modals and should be learned together with the basic modal verbs. These include:
have to / need to / had better / be able to / ought to
Here are explanations of each modal verb and the forms that are similar in usage. Explanations are divided into how the modals and other forms are used. Each modal verb and form includes multiple examples to provide context.

Modal Verbs of Advice 

Modal verbs of advice are used to ask for and give advice to friends, family, colleagues in a wide variety of situations. The most common is the simple modal verb 'should'.
However, 'had better' and 'ought to' are also possible. 
should
'Should' is the most common way to give advice:
S + should / shouldn't + verb 
She should see a doctor.
They shouldn't go to school today.
We should take a vacation soon.

(?) + should + S + verb
What should I wear tonight?
When should we have the party?
Should I go to college next year?

had better
'Had better' is also used to give advice, but is more formal.
S + had better / hadn't better + verb 
Peter had better hurry up if he doesn't want to be late.
They had better finish the work soon.
She had better write him a letter explaining the situation.

(?) + had + S + better + verb
When had she better leave for work?
What had she better do today?
Had I better finish this work?

ought to
'Ought to' is used to give advice, but is also more formal. The question form is rarely used.
S + ought to / ought not to + verb 
Tom ought to look into the situation.
They ought not to be so late for school.
Angela ought to find some new friends.

'Ought to' is generally not used in the question form.

Modal Verbs of Ability

Modal verbs of ability express someone or something is able to do. These forms are used to express facts or possibilities in daily situations.
can
'Can' is used to speak about abilities, both on a daily basis and in specific situations.
S + can / can't (can not) + verb 
They can play soccer very well.
Mark can't understand French.
Birds can fly.

(?) + can + S + verb
Where can I park my car?
Can you speak Spanish?
When can I speak to the doctor?

be able to
'Be able to' conjugates the main verb 'be' rather than a modal verb.
S + be + able to + verb 
Anna is able to work five days a week.
They aren't able to come to the meeting next week.
He is able to speak three languages. 

(?) + be + S + able to + verb
When are you able to come next week?
Is she able to help us on the project?
What are you able to do?

Modal Verbs of Permission

'Can' and 'May' are all used to ask for and give (or deny) permission to do something.
can
S + can / can't (can not) + verb 
She can stay with us.
They can't use those tools. I'm sorry.
We can use their lawnmower.

Can + S + verb
Many people feel that the modal 'can' should not be used to ask for permission. However, it is commonly used by many English speakers despite the incorrect usage. When using 'can' to ask for permission, do not use question words such as 'what', 'where', etc.
Can I use your telephone?
Can I have something to drink?
Can she use your car today?

NOTE: 'Could' - the past of 'can' - is also used as a more polite form.
may
'May' is considered by many the only modal to use when asking for permission. The negative form is rarely used. However, the negative form is sometimes used to emphasize that someone does not have permission to do something.
S + may / may not + verb 
You may start the test now.
You may not go out with your friends this Saturday.
He may see the doctor now. 

May + S + verb
'May' is usually used with only the pronoun 'I' to ask for permission in a polite manner.
May I use your telephone?
May I ask him a few questions?
May I leave now?

Modal Verbs of Obligation

Modal verbs of obligation are used to speak about something that is required. The two forms - 'must' and 'have to' -  are used in very different ways.
must
Use 'must' to speak about strong personal obligation at the moment of speaking. This form can be used instead of 'have to'. However, 'have to' is much more common when speaking about daily responsibilities. 'Must' is very strong and should be used carefully.
S + must + verb 
It's late! I must get going.
She must finish her test before twelve.
I must speak to Tom today. It's really important.

s + mustn't (must not) + verb
The negative 'mustn't' is used to speak about actions that are prohibited.
She mustn't play with those toys.
We mustn't leave before the end of the class.
They mustn't use the computers.
Must + S + verb
The question form with 'must' is rarely used. However, it is sometimes used to complain about something that is required of someone.
Must I do my homework now?
Must we do this test today?
Must she really leave this week?

S + have to + verb
'Have to' is conjugated as a regular verb with helping verbs (do, did, will, etc.) to speak about daily responsibilities. It is often used to speak about work on a day to day basis, but can be used to speak about specific events.
She has to get up at seven every morning.
They have to deliver packages on time.
We have to finish the report soon. 

(?) + Auxiliary Verb + S + have to + verb
Does she have to work on this project with me?
Where do we have to go this afternoon?
When does Mary have to get up?

S + don't / doesn't / didn't / won't, etc. + have to + verb
Use the negative to state what is not required, but use 'mustn't' to discuss what is prohibited.
She doesn't have to get up early on Saturdays.
We don't have to worry about arriving late.
They don't have to stay after school today.

These explanations concern the basic use of each modal and form and does not include the use of these forms as modal verbs of probability. Modal verbs of probability are used to express what we think is true.

Modal Verbs in basic Grammar

Modal verbs help qualify a verb by saying what a person can, may, should, or must do, as well as what might happen. The grammar used with modal verbs can be confusing at times. Generally speaking, modal verbs act like auxiliary verbs in that they are used together with a main verb.
She has lived in New York for ten years. - auxiliary verb 'has' 
She might live in New York for ten years. - modal verb 'might'
Some modal forms such as 'have to', 'be able to' and 'need' are sometimes used with together with auxiliary verbs:
Do you have to work tomorrow?
Will you be able to come to the party next week?
Others such as 'can', 'should', and 'must' are not used with an auxiliary verb:
Where should I go?
They mustn't waste time. 
This page provides an overview of the most common modal verbs including many exceptions to the rule.

Can - May

Both 'can' and 'may' are used in question form to ask permission.
Examples of Asking Permission with 'May' and 'Can'
Can I come with you?
May I come with you?
In the past, 'may' was considered correct and 'can' incorrect when asking for permission. However, in modern English it is common to use both forms and considered correct by all but the strictest of grammarians.

Can - To Be Allowed To

One of the uses of 'can' is to express permission. In the simplest sense, we use 'can' as a polite form to request something. However, at other times 'can' expresses permission to do something specific. In this case, 'to be allowed to do something' can also be used.
'To be allowed to' is more formal and is commonly used for rules and regulations.
Examples of Simple Questions:
Can I come with you?
Can I make a telephone call?

Examples of Asking Permission
Can I go to the party? => Am I allowed to go to the party?
Can he take the course with me? => Is he allowed to take the course with me?

Can - To Be Able To

'Can' is also used to express ability. Another form that can be used to express ability is 'to be able to'. Usually, either of these two forms can be used.
I can play the piano. => I'm able to play the piano.
She can speak Spanish. => She's able to speak Spanish.

There is no future or perfect form of 'can'. Use 'to be able to' in both future and perfect tenses.
Jack's been able to golf for three years.
I'll be able to speak Spanish when I finish the course.

Special Case of the Past Positive Form

When speaking about a specific (non-general) event in the past only 'to be able to' is used in the positive form. However, both 'can' and 'to be able to' are used in the past negative.
I was able to get tickets for the concert. NOT I could get tickets for the concert.
I couldn't come last night. OR I wasn't able to come last night.

May / Might 

'May' and 'might' are used to express future possibilities. Do not use helping verbs with 'may' or 'might.
He may visit next week.
She might fly to Amsterdam. 

Must

'Must' is used for strong personal obligation. When something is very important to us at a particular moment we use 'must'.
Oh, I really must go.
My tooth is killing me. I must see a dentist.

Have to

Use 'have to' for daily routines and responsibilities.
He has to get up early every day.
Do they have to travel often?

Mustn't vs. Don't Have To

Remember that 'mustn't' expresses prohibition. 'Don't have to' expresses something that is not required. However, if the person may choose to do so if he or she pleases.
Children mustn't play with medicine.
I don't have to go to work on Fridays.

Should

'Should' is used to ask for or give advice.
Should I see a doctor?
He should leave soon if he wants to catch the train.

Should, Ought to, Had Better

Both 'ought to' and 'had better' express the same idea as 'should'. They can usually be used in place of 'should'.
You should see a dentist. => You'd better see a dentist.
They should join a team. => They ought to join a team.

NOTE: 'had better' is a more urgent form.
Modal + Various Verb Forms
Modal verbs are generally followed by the base form of the verb.
She should come with us to the party.
They must finish their homework before dinner.
I might play tennis after work.

Modal Verbs of Probability

Modal verbs grammar can become especially confusing when taking a look at the verbs which follow the modal verb itself. Usually, modal verbs' grammar dictates that modal verbs are followed by the base form of the verb to the present or future moment. However, Modal verbs can also be used with other forms of verbs. The most common of these modal verbs' grammar forms is the use of the modal plus a perfect form to refer to a past time when using a modal verb of probability.
She must have bought that house.
Jane could have thought he was late.
Tim can't have believed her story.

Other forms used include the modal plus the progressive form to refer to what may / should / could be happening at the present moment of time.
He may be studying for his math exam.
He must be thinking about the future.
Tom can be driving that truck, he's sick today.


Guessing

There are a number of ways to guess in English. Here are some of the most common:
  • I'd say he's about ready to quit his job.
  • It might need some oil.
  • He could be in the garden.
  • It looks like a miniature motor.
  • Perhaps he needs some time off work.
  • Maybe they want to come and visit this summer.
  • It's difficult to say, but I'd guess that it's used for cleaning house.
  • I'm not really sure, but I think they enjoy hiking in the mountains.

Construction
Formula
Form
I'd say he's about ready to quite his job.
Use 'I'd say' an independent clause.
It might need some oil.
Use 'might' the base form of the verb.
He could be in the garden.
Use 'could' the base form of the verb.
It looks like a miniature motor.
Use the verb 'look like' a noun.
Perhaps he needs some time off work.
Begin the sentence with 'perhaps'.
Maybe they want to come and visit this summer.
Begin the sentence with 'maybe'.
It's difficult to say, but I'd guess that it's used for cleaning house.
Use the phrase 'It's difficult to say, but I'd guess' an independent clause.
I'm not really sure, but I think they enjoy hiking in the mountains.
Use the phrase 'I'm not really sure, but I think' an independent clause.

Asking for Permission in English

How to Ask for, Grant or Refuse Permission
Asking for permission to do something takes many different forms. Perhaps you need to get permission to do something at work, or perhaps you need to ask a friend for permission to use one of her possessions, or maybe you need to ask the teacher if you can leave room the for a moment or two. Remember to use polite forms when asking for permission to do something or use an object as you are asking a favor of that person.
Structures Used when Asking for Permission
Can I + verb - VERY INFORMAL
Can I go out tonight?
Can he have dinner with us?
NOTE: The use of "Can I do something?" is very informal, and considered incorrect by many. However, it is used in everyday informal speech and for that reason has been included.
May I + verb
May I have another piece of pie?
May we go out with our friends tonight?
NOTE: Traditionally, the use of "May I do something?" has been used for asking permission. In modern society, this form has become a little more formal and is often replaced with other forms such as "Can I..." and "Could I ..." Many argue that "Can I ..." is incorrect because it refers to ability.
However, this form is quite common in everyday situations.
Could I please + verb
Could I please go with Tom to the movie?
Could we please go on trip this weekend?
Do you think I could + verb
Do you think I could use your cell phone?
Do you think I could borrow your car?
Would it be possible for me + infinitive
Would it be possible for me to use your computer for a few minutes?
Would it be possible for to study in this room?
Would you mind if I + verb in past
Would you mind if I stayed a few more minutes?
Would you mind if I took a five minute break?
Would you mind my + verb + ing + your + object
Would you mind my using your cellphone?
Would you mind my playing your piano?
Giving Permission
If you would like to say "yes" to someone who asks permission, you can give permission using these phrases:
Sure
No problem.
Go right ahead.
Please feel free + infinitive
 
When giving permission people will sometimes also offer to help in other ways. See the example conversations below for an example
Refusing a Favor
If you do not want to deny permission, you can these responses:
I'm afraid I'd prefer if you didn't / don't.
Sorry, but I'd rather you not do that.
Unfortunately, I need to say no.
I'm afraid that's not possible.
Saying 'no', is never fun, but sometimes it's necessary. It's common to offer a different solution to try to help out even if you can't give permission.
Example Situations - Asking for Permission which is Given
Jack: Hi Sam, do you think I could use your cellphone for a moment?
Sam: Sure, no problem. Here you are.
Jack: Thanks buddy. It will only be a minute or two.
Sam: Take your time. No rush.
Jack: Thanks!
Student: Would it be possible for me to have a few more minutes to review before the quiz?
Teacher: Please feel free to study for a few more minutes.
Student: Thank you very much.
Teacher: No problem. Do you have any questions in particular?
Student: Uh, no. I just need to review things quickly.
Teacher: OK. We'll begin in five minutes.
Student: Thank you.
Example Situations - Asking for Permission which is Denied
Employee: Would you mind if I came in late to work tomorrow?
Boss: I'm afraid I'd prefer if you didn't.
Employee: Hmmm. What if I work overtime tonight?
Boss: Well, I really need you for the meeting tomorrow. Is there any way you can do whatever it is you need to do later.
Employee: If you put it that way, I'm sure I can figure something out.
Boss: Thanks, I appreciate it.
Son: Dad, can I go out tonight?
Father: It's a school night! I'm afraid that's not possible.
Son: Dad, all my friends are going to the game!
Father: I'm sorry son. Your grades haven't been the best recently. I'm going to have to say no.
Son: Ah, Dad, come on! Let me go!
Father: Sorry son, no is no.
Practice Situations
Find a partner and use these suggestions to practice asking for permission, as well as giving and denying permission as shown in the examples. Make sure to vary the language you use when practicing rather than using the same phrase over and over again.
Ask permission to ...
  • go out on a weekday evening with friends
  • use someone's car for the day
  • use someone's cell or smart phone
  • take a day or two off work
  • skip school for a day
  • play someone's piano
  • use someone's computer
  • make a copy of an article in a magazine

Asking for Information in English

Asking for information can be as simple as asking for the time, or as complicated as asking for details about a complicated process. In both cases, it's important to use an appropriate form to the situation. For example, when asking for information from a friend, use a more informal form. When asking a colleague, use a slightly more formal form. Finally, when asking for information from a stranger, use an appropriately formal construction.
Structures Used when Asking for Information
Very Informal - for Friends and Family
Simple Question: Wh? + Helping Verb + Subject + Verb
If you are asking a friend or family member for information, use a direct a question.
How much does it cost?
Where does she live?
More Formal for Everyday Simple Questions
Use these forms for simple, everyday questions in stores, with colleagues at work, and in other informal situations.
(Pardon me, Excuse me) Can / could you tell me + wh? + S + verb?
Can you tell me when the train arrives?
Pardon me, could you tell me how much the book costs?
Formal for More Complicated Questions and Asking Important People Questions
Use these forms when asking complicated questions that require a lot of information, as well as asking information questions of important people such as your boss, on a job interview, etc.
I wonder if you could + tell me / explain / provide information on ...
I wonder if you could explain how health insurance is handled at your company.
I wonder if you could provide information on your pricing structure.
Would you mind + verb + ing ...?
Would you mind telling me a little bit more about benefits at this company?
Would you mind going over the savings plan again?
Replying to a Request for Information
If you would like to provide information when asked for information, start your reply with one of the following phrases.
Informal
Sure
No problem.
Let me see ...
More Formal
I'd be happy to answer that.
I should be able to answer your question.
It'd be a pleasure to help you.
When providing information people will sometimes also offer to help in other ways. See the example conversations below for an example.
Saying No
If you do not have the answer to a request for information, use one of the phrases below to indicate that you are unable to answer the question.
Informal
Sorry, I can't help you out.
Sorry, but I don't know that.
That's beyond me.
More Formal
I'm afraid I don't have the answer to that question.
I'd like to help you. Unfortunately, I don't have that information / don't know.
Saying 'no', is never fun, but sometimes it's necessary. It's common to offer a suggestion as to where someone might find out the information required.
Example Situations
Simple Situation
Brother: When does the movie start?
Sister: I think it's at 8.
Brother: Check, will you?
Sister: You're so lazy. Just a second.
Brother: Thanks sis.
Sister: Yes, it starts at 8. Get off the couch sometimes!
Customer: Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find menswear?
Shop Assistant: Sure. Menswear is on the second floor.
Customer: Oh, also, could you tell me where sheets are.
Shop Assistant: No problem, sheets are on the third floor at the back.
Customer: Thanks for your help.
Shop Assistant: My pleasure.
More Complex / Formal Situation
Man: Excuse me, would you mind answering some questions?
Business Colleague: I'd be happy to help.
Man: I wonder if you could tell me when the project is going to begin.
Business Colleague: I believe we're beginning the project next month.
Man: and who will be responsible for the project.
Business Colleague: I think Bob Smith is in charge of the project.
Man: OK, finally, would you mind telling me how much the estimated cost will be?
Business Colleague: I'm afraid I can't answer that. Perhaps you should speak with my director.
Man: Thank you. I thought you might say that. I'll speak to Mr. Anders.
Business Colleague: Yes, that would be best for that type of information. Man: Thank you for helping out.
Business Colleague: My pleasure.
Ask for information about ...
  • a subject you are studying at school
  • a new product in a store
  • a friend who you haven't seen for a long time
  • what someone wants for a birthday
  • how to do something you don't understand
  • vacation spots
  • how to cook something
  • using a computer program

Asking for a Favor in English

How to Ask for, Grant and Deny Favors
It's common to ask for favors from friends, relatives, your family, and your colleagues. It's important to be polite when you are asking for a favor. Use these phrases to politely asking for a favor. Pay special attention to the form of the verb used.

Asking a Favor

Could / Would you do me a favor? - Use this form to ask in general if someone will do a favor for you as a way to begin the conversation.
Would you do me a favor? I need some help.
Could you do me a favor? I'm late for work ...

Could you please + verb - Use the simple form of the verb (do) to ask for help with specific situation in polite situations.
Could you please take me to work?
Could you please lend me a hand?

Could you possibly + verb - Use the simple form of the verb to ask for help with specific situations with being very polite.
Could I possibly take some time off to help?
Could you possibly work overtime today?

Could I ask / bother / trouble you + infinitive - Use the infinitive form of the verb (to do) to ask for a favor in formal situations.
Could I ask you to help my brother?
Could I bother you to give a ride to work?
Could I trouble you to open the door for me?
Would you mind + verb + ing - Use the gerund form of the verb (doing) to ask for a favor in every day situations.
Would you mind closing the window?
Would you mind cooking dinner tonight?
Would it be too much trouble for you + infinitive - Use this form with the infinitive to ask for a favor in very formal situations.
Would it be too much trouble for you to let me come in late tomorrow?
Would it be too much trouble for you to take a look at this letter?
May I + verb? - Use the simple form of the verb with 'may' when the favor you're asking requires permission.
May I leave class early?
May we use your telephone?

Granting a Favor

If you would like to say "yes" to someone who asks you for a favor, you can grant the favor using these phrases:
Sure
No problem.
I'd be happy to help you.
It would be my pleasure.
I'd be glad to help out.
It's common to ask for more specifics when granting a favor. For instance, if your friend asks you to help him out with a project, you might ask some follow up questions to get an idea of what is needed.

Refusing a Favor

If you are unable to help out and need to say "no", you can refuse a favor with these responses:
I'm afraid I can't.
Sorry, but I'm unable + infinitive
Unfortunately, I'm not able + infinitive.
Regrettably, I can't + verb
Saying 'no', is never fun, but sometimes it's necessary. It's common to offer a different solution to try to help out even if you can't do the favor.

Asking for a Favor which is Granted

Peter: Hi Anna. I've got a favor to ask. Would you mind cooking dinner tonight? I'm kind of busy.
Anna: Sure, Peter. What would you like for dinner?
Peter: Could I trouble you to make some pasta?
Anna: That's sounds good. Let's have pasta. Which type of sauce should I make?
Peter: Would it be too much trouble to make a four cheese sauce?
Anna: No, that's easy. Yum. Good idea.
Peter: Thanks Anna. That really helps me out.
Anna: No problem.
Mark: Hey, could you please help me with the homework?
Susan: I'd be glad to help out. What seems to be the problem.
Mark:: I don't get this equation. Would you mind explaining it to me?
Susan: No problem. It's difficult!
Mark: Yeah, I know. Thanks a lot.
Susan: Don't worry about it.

Asking for a Favor which is Refused

Employee: Hello, Mr. Smith. Could I ask you a question?
Boss: Sure, what do you need?
Employee: Would it be too much trouble for you to let me come in at 10 tomorrow morning?
Boss: Oh, that's a little difficult.
Employee: Yes, I know it's last moment, but I have to go to the dentist.
Boss: I'm afraid I can't let you come in late tomorrow. We really need you at the meeting.
Employee: OK, I just thought I'd ask. I'll get a different appointment.
Boss: Thanks, I appreciate it.
Brother: Hey. Would you mind letting me watch my show?
Sister: Sorry, but I can't do that.
Brother: Why not?!
Sister: I'm watching favorite show now.
Brother: But I'm going to miss my favorite game show!
Sister: Watch it online. Don't bother me.
Brother: Could you please watch your show online, it's a rerun!
Sister: Sorry, but I'm unable to do that. You'll just have to watch it later.

Practice Situations

Find a partner and use these suggestions to practice asking for favors, as well as granting and refusing favors as shown in the examples. Make sure to vary the language you use when practicing rather than using the same phrase over and over again.
Ask someone to ...
  • loan you $50 for the weekend
  • help you with your homework
  • assist you with some paperwork such as filling out a form
  • give you a ride
  • check your writing or correct your grammar
  • practice speaking English with you
  • cook a meal
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Complaining in English

What to say when something isn't right
Everyone would like everything to go well. However, that's not very realistic. Sometimes, things go well and we can compliment others or thank them for the help. Unfortunately, it's sometimes necessary to complain. If you are shopping, you might want to complain to a shop assistant about a product. If you are with friends, you might want to complain about an unfair teacher, or work situation. In these difficult times, you might want to complain about politicians and their inability to make things better. Let's be honest, sometimes it's just fun to complain! Use these forms and phrases to make your complaints heard.

Forms Used to Complain


What a(n) + Adjective + Noun !
Use this form to express your dismay that something is much worse than you expected.
What a tasteless sandwich!
What a waste of time!
What a crappy day!

So + Adjective / Adverb
Use an adjective or adverb with a negative meaning with 'so' to express an extreme degree. Make sure to not confuse this form with 'such + noun phrase' below.
Learn about 'so' and 'such'.
The test was so difficult.
He drives so slowly.
He's so incompetent. 

So Much / Many + Noun
Use a noun with 'so much' or 'so many' to complain about an amount of something that you find to be excessive.
I've got so much work to do this week!
There are so many children in this room. I can't hear myself think.

Such + Noun (Phrase)
Use 'such' plus a noun or noun phrase to express that you find something annoying or bothersome. This form is often used in complex sentences to explain the result of a poor situation.
She was such a bad teacher that I couldn't learn a thing.
It was such bad weather that we had to cancel the trip. 
She was late to the party because she had such a demanding boss.

Too + Adjective / Adverb
The modifier 'too' is used with an adjective or adverb to state that there is too much of a particular characteristic or way of doing something.
Those people are too loud. I can't concentrate.
This fan is too noisy. I'd like to return it.
She drives too fast for me.

Too + Much / Many + Noun
Use a noun preceded by 'too much or many' to indicate that there is an excessive amount of something.
There are too many questions left for us to move ahead with the project.
There is too much pollution in this city. It stinks!
Anna has too much time on her hands.

Verbs Used to Complain
There are a number of verbs used to complain about things or people.
dislike
hate
despise
loathe
detest
I detest his face!
I dislike having to wait so long to get help.
I loathe red tape.

Find + Object + annoying / bothersome / ridiculous / etc.
Use the verb 'find' with an object and adjective to state that you find something bothersome.
I find her very annoying.
We find these exercises bothersome.
I find your complaints ridiculous!

Replying to a Complaint


If someone complains, they probably expect you to reply to their complaint - or at least recognize their complaint. Here are some responses to use with someone who complains.
I'm sorry + Clause 
I'm sorry you feel that way.
I'm sorry you've been having such a hard time lately.
I'm sorry the price is so high.

I apologize for + Noun Phrase
I apologize for the lack of attention.
I apologize for the inconvenience.

Example Situations
Example 1 - In a Store
Customer: Hello, can you help me?
Shop Assistant: Sure, what may I help you with?
Customer: I'd like to return this radio.
Shop Assistant: Certainly, would you mind telling me why?
Customer: It's too difficult to use.
Shop Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that.
Customer: There are so many options that I can't use it!
Shop Assistant: Perhaps we can find a radio that's a little less complicated.
Customer: I really dislike complicated gadgets.
Shop Assistant: I hear you! Let's first return this and then we can look for a new one.
Customer: Thanks for your help. I didn't want to complain.
Shop Assistant: No problem.
Example 2 - At Home
Husband: I'm sick and tired of work!
Wife: Everybody says that.
Husband: Yes, but I mean it! I hate my boss!
Wife: Why what has he done now?
Husband: He's such a jerk. He's so stressful.
Wife: It can't be that bad.
Husband: Oh he is, believe me. Yesterday, he was so insulting that two colleagues quit.
Wife: ReallY?
Husband: Yes, they said he didn't pay enough for them to put up with his demands.
Wife: That's serious. Maybe you should look for a new job.
Husband: Maybe I should. I can't stand him.
Wife: Let me make you a gin and tonic.
Husband: That sounds good to me.


There’s no end of learning, so what we can do, is keep ourselves up to date as much as possible, Cheers!!!