The aim of this page is to
help you write tentative sentences.
It is common to use tentative language in academic work
for analysis and argumentation. One way of achieving a tentative tone is to use
modals (or modal verbs).
According to a recent study, the economy
may not have really recovered, despite heavy expenditure by mainland
tourists in the territory. Getting a well-paid job with bright prospects
can still be very difficult for fresh graduates these days. Students
must therefore learn to face reality and accept posts with a lower
At present, almost all students in
UGC-funded universities obtain their first degree after three years of study,
but the question of whether universities should adopt a four-year
curriculum is always open to discussion. Advocates believe that such a
curriculum will produce graduates with better knowledge and
You can use could have, may
have, etc. followed by a past participle if something had the
potential to occur in the past, but did not in fact take place, or if you are
not certain whether it did indeed happen.
Replace the word in brackets in the following sentences with a modal phrase
to make it more tentative. In some cases, more than one answer is
1. Learning a new language (is) a real pleasure.
2. It (is) wise to spend more time working out our needs before
conducting the survey.
3. Judging from the attitude and examples used,
this article (was) written by a
4. The findings indicate that excessive exposure to sunlight
(is) the primary cause of skin
5. The audience (was not)
aware of the mistake we made during the performance.
6. Good preparation
and a sincere attitude (help)
you impress the panel in an interview.
7. The method we used in analysing
the data (is)
8. Why don’t you ask Paul? He (knows) the answer.
(get) a better job if you have a good IELTS
10. Our formula (is) taken as a new measure to evaluate the existing