Grammar in EAP

Modal Verbs

modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb. Its function is to modulate the meaning of the verb. They have grammatical functions, helping to form complex verbal groups. Examples are "can", "may", might", "must". According to Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan (1999, p. 456) modal verbs account for 15% of verb use in academic texts. It is therefore important to teach/learn them from an early stage.

Exercise

Identify the modal verbs in the following text.

There are no prohibitions against the formation of associations or societies for any lawful object - religious, social, political, philanthropic, or the like. The law does not, however, regard such societies (unless formally incorporated) as having any corporate personality; it sees only individuals, owning property, it may be, in common, with rights and duties towards each other flowing from the contract, or rather series of contracts, to be found in the society's rules; for on every change in the membership a new contract must be implied. Such contract or contracts may be varied if, and only if, the rules so provide, by a majority of the members or by a specified majority. The common property, if it is more than mere cash in hand or at the bank, will be vested in trustees who must deal with it in accordance with the rules or with any trust expressly declared, and it can be made liable for obligations incurred by, or on behalf of, the society. But no liability for tort can be enforced against a Trade Union for acts done in contemplation or furtherance of a specific trade dispute (within strict limits), and possibly not against other unincorporated societies. Where the objects of the society are charitable in the legal sense, which includes the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, and other purposes beneficial to the community, formalities prescribed by older statutes have been abolished by the Charities Act 1960, which, however, provides for compulsory registration of all charities not especially exempted. If the objects of the society are not charitable, the rule against perpetuities, from which charities, provided that they are to begin within the perpetuity period, are exempt, will make void any gift of property by way of permanent endowment, whether made by will or otherwise; but there is nothing to prevent gifts or bequests from being made to a non-charitable society in such terms that it can, at any time, dispose of the capital at its pleasure. The rules of a society and the trusts which bind its property will, in many cases, fetter its freedom of action and the application of its property, in a way very similar to the restrictions which the doctrine of ultra vires imposes on a corporation; and in the case of some unincorporated societies, such as registered Trade Unions and Friendly Societies, which have received a peculiar status by Statute, the rule of ultra vires has been held directly applicable. But, subject to considerable restrictions on the furtherance of political objects, a Trade Union is empowered by Statute since 1913 to devote its funds to any lawful objects authorized by its rules for the time being.

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