I do know about modal verbs, but that's because I have to teach them at school, not because I woke up one day saying, 'Hey, I know what's missing from my life! No wonder I've been feeling low.'
My boss told me today that she teaches modal verbs using the Beverley Knight song 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda'. If you didn't know already what modal verbs were, does that give you a clue?
Just in case you'd care more for neck acne than for modals, but you like Beverley Knight and fancy a listen to a great tune, here she is singing it live. It's ace.
A brief distraction from the worries of life, care of Beverley Knight
I'm not as inventive as my boss and, anyway, I have only just learned how to show a Youtube clip in class WITH sound. So I've been teaching modals by asking what's the difference between 'I must do my homework ... I may do my homework ... I could do my homework ... I will do my homework ... I should do my homework ...' Each one has a slightly different meaning and the modal verb changes the 'strength' of the word 'do', giving elements of choice or possibility. Or taking them away.
(Of course, the answer is, 'I must do my homework.' Whatever the question.)
Beverley Knight and my boss got me thinking. What other songs have modals in? What would happen if the modal was a different one?
Celine Dion's heart might have gone on. But might not.
The Rolling Stones would have sung 'I Shouldn't Get No Satisfaction' and their scanning would have been all out of synch to add to the pre-existing grammar problems.
Boys II Men would have sung 'I Might Make Love to You' instead of 'I Will Make Love to You' and may not have got the chance to make love at all, with that kind of shilly-shallying around.
Pete Seeger would have discovered that singing 'We Could Overcome' didn't draw quite the crowds of the original.
Whitney Houston's 'I Must Always Love You' would have been a song about doing your duty and one you'd sing to an aunt you only just tolerated at Christmas or a mongrel you'd inherited when a friend turned out to be allergic and you took him on out of a feeling of obligation.
And those frilly ladies doing the can-can in gay Paris would have found things very awkward indeed.
|Yes, they could could, while they were young. |