6.2.6 Conjugate the following modal, auxiliary and copulative verbs

All these verbs are very important and all of them are irregular. In other words, they must be learned. Modal verbs are verbs like to want, can, should, must etc.. They don't have a semantic value themselves, they don't describe a concrete action, but they describe the circumstances in which an action is performed. Whether someone must do something or whether he can do something is very different. The action is the same, but the circunstances completely different. (The verb to want is considered a main verb in English, in opposite to the other English modalverbs it is conjugated at the 3rd person singular. However in general and in all other languages it is considered a modal verb.) We discuss the modal verbs more in detail in chapter 15.

Auxiliary verbs don't have a semantic value either. Verbs like to do, to be, to have, to go, would don't describe an action. They can be combined with any other verb and it is this other verb that describes the action or the event. They serve to form the tenses, "I have bought a book", to describe the mood, "If he were rich, he would be still more arrogant", the passive voice, "The car has been repaired", foare used in the negation, "He doesn't tell us what happened" and to form question "How do you do?". Some auxiliary verbs can be used as main verbs as well, "He is ill", "We have a car". In English and in Roman languages the future can be formed with to go, however in English only with the gerund: I am going to do that tomorrow. In Roman languages this is simpler: ~ I go do that tomorrow.

Copulative verbs are used to assign a property to the subject of the sentence. To get, "He got rich", to become "he became nervous", to be, "That is silly" are copulative verbs.

More or less the system of the modal, auxiliary and copulative verbs is the same in all languages. Sometimes there are little differences. In roman languages for instance there is a distinction between to be able to do something, because at a concrete moment there is no hindrance and to be able to do something in theory because it was learned: "The boy can sleep. <=> The boy can already read." Roman languages have two different words for that.

There is one important difference that always causes problems. Roman languages as Portuguese distinguish between transitional states and inherent properties. Transitional states like "He is nervours", "The straweberries are already green" are described with estar. Inherent properties like "He is a teacher", "We are poor but happy" with ser. (To keep this point simple. Actually it is more complicated. If someone is dead for instance, he is definitely dead, but it is "Está morto". Furthermore we use estar if the meaning iss to be located. The river Guadalquivir for instance is definitely in Spain, but it is "Valladolid está situado na região Castilla".)

About all these verbs we will discuss later in the chapters about the verbal tenses, the different moods, the modal verbs. The conjugation however must be simply learned.

conjugate the following verbs
ter (to have)
ser (to be)
ir (to go)
estar (to be)
poder (can)
querer (to want)

contact privacy statement imprint