Thursday, May 15, 2014

Modal Auxiliaries: Should, Would & Could

Should:  deveria
Would:   compraria/ iria/ faria
Could:    poderia

Should have: Deveria ter + Participle
Would have:  Teria + Participle
Could have:   Poderia ter + Participle

1.      We should always “do for others what we would like them to do for us”, but it’s kind of difficult, isn’t it?

2.      I should be watching more TV in Portuguese, listening to more Brazilian music and reading Portuguese books. Despite my excuses, I really should make the effort because it’s pretty important for me.

3.      In theory, the people that we elect to government should be honest, transparent and trustworthy, but in practice it doesn’t always work out that way. Do you think all people are corruptible?

4.      I shouldn’t have eaten that burger and those French fries today. I’m still feeling a little sluggish.

5.      I would love to live in a mosquito-free area. Mosquitoes are such a pain in the butt!

6.      I would be really happy with two more children. “The more the merrier.” For me, 3 is the perfect number.

7.      If I were born in Brazil, my Portuguese would be a lot better… but I would have had to learn English!!

8.      If I had come to Brazil just 5 days later than I did, I wouldn’t have qualified for an amnesty residence visa.

9.      If I really wanted to, now that I have my permanent residence visa for Brazil, I could go and live and work in Argentina because of the Mercosul trade agreement… but I don’t fancy starting from scratch again!

10.  If your English was close to perfect and you were perfectly fluent, could you get a better paid job? 

11.  If you could ask God any question right now, what would it be?

12.  I could have taken more luggage with me on my last trip, but I decided to play it safe and not go over the weight allowance, because it’s really a headache to have to open your luggage and rearrange everything.

13.  When we talk about lost opportunities and we want to brush them off or dismiss them, we can use the phrase, “Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve”. 


  1. Pretty interesting, good post (y)

    1. Thanks Eduardo. I hope it helped you. Grammar is very logical in most cases... we just need to find the connections.

  2. Good post as usual. I would suggest that you talked about would/used to refering to habits in the past, something that still confuses me.

    1. Hi Sergio, exactly as you pointed out:
      Would is linked to the grammatical structure "Used to".
      "Used to" and "would" for past routines or habits are practically the same thing. However, let me give you a useful tip.

      Somewhere on the internet I copied this explanation: "The difference is that "would" should not be used unless it has already been established that the time frame is in the past, while "used to" does not require this."

      One super practical example would be when you are talking about a past routine or something you did habitually... and you are giving a list of specific things you used to do as part of a broader routine/ habit/ pastime. We would often start with "used to" and then continue with the other things using "would". "Would" can be repeated a number of times and it still sounds natural, whereas "used to" does not sound great repeated:

      During my holidays in high school I USED TO spend a lot of time in the bush. Sometimes I WOULD get on my mountain bike and disappear into the pine-tree plantations. Sometimes I WOULD go on foot (because I grew up on a farm). I WOULD pack a backpack with a bird guide and binoculars, as well as a butterfly net (I was a butterfly catcher and birdwatcher!). When I came to a secluded place I WOULD simply sit still for a long period of time and watch as the birds began to emerge around me. If I caught a butterfly I WOULD...

      You get the idea. It would be very monotonous to substitute "USED TO" in every case above... It would still make sense, but would not be natural. You can use "WOULD" as many times as you want and it will not be overused. The thing is that you have already established that the time frame is in the past.

      Hope that explains it a little!


      P.S. By the way, here is a post I made a little over 2 years ago, explaining the difference between "Used to" and "(be) used to" - the difference between past and present routine grammar: