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Stranger than fiction 1 Talking points Discuss how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements

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Unit 3
Stranger than fiction
1 Talking points

Discuss how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.

    1. I am not superstitious, but would not make any important decisions on Friday 13th.

    2. Ghosts exist only as figments of the imagination or as optical illusions.

    3. The experience of déjà vu suggests that reincarnation is possible.

    4. Clairvoyants are charlatans.

    5. Mediums with psychic powers can communicate with the dead during séances.

    6. Reading horoscopes in the paper or magazines is a waste of time.

    7. We live in a pre-determined and entirely mechanistic world.

    8. I would never believe the predictions of a palmist or other fortune-teller.

    9. I am highly skeptical of claims that some people have telepathic powers.

    10. It is unwise to dabble in the occult.

2 Vocabulary

A. What word is missing? Complete these sentences.

    1. A person who has … powers can perform spiritualistic feats.

    2. A … can say what will happen to you in the future.

    3. Your … is based on the positions of the stars and planets at the time of your birth.

    4. A strong feeling forewarning you about a future event is called a … .

    5. A … is someone who can see things in their mind that are happening at a different time or place.

    6. A … is someone who can tell things about you by studying the lines in your hand.

    7. The … is a word that describes everything that is supernatural, mystical and magical.

    8. A person with … powers can communicate with others at a distance through the mind.

    9. An … illusion is an image that is not what it seems.

    10. A … is a person who can communicate with the spirit world.

    11. A house that is haunted has a … in it.

    12. A … is a meeting of a group of people who are attempting to contact the spirit world.

B. Translate into Russian focusing on active vocabulary

  1. There's nobody hiding in the bushes; it's just a figment of your imagination.

  2. I tried to explain that the road didn't really get narrower up ahead, but the child had no concept of what an optical illusion was.

  3. The firm believer in reincarnation, he is convinced that in another lifetime he was an Egyptian slave who helped to build the Great Pyramids.

  4. Sometimes I think my mother is a clairvoyant, she always seems to know when I have a problem.

  5. She dabbled in Satanism and various other forms of the occult when she was at University, but her interest turned out to be a passing fancy.

  6. A psychic is a person who has power unexplained by scientists and not experienced by most people, such as the ability to see into the future.

3 Reading

Read the article about the entertainment phenomenon of the ragtime era

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini who died in 1927, was the entertainment phenomenon. He could escape from chains and padlocks, from ropes and canvas sacks. They put him in a straitjacket and hung him upside down from a skyscraper and he somehow untied himself. They tied him up in a locked packing case and sank him in Liverpool docks. Minutes later he surfaced smiling. They locked him in a zinc-lined Russian prison van and he emerged leaving the doors locked and the locks undamaged. They padlocked him in a milk churn full of water and he burst free. They put him in a coffin, screwed down the lid, and buried him and … well, no, he didn’t pop up like a mole but when they dug him up more than half an hour later he was still breathing.

Houdini would usually allow his equipment to be examined by the audience. The chains, locks and packing cases all seemed perfectly kosher, so it was tempting to conclude that he possessed superhuman powers. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was the very paragon of analytical thinking but Conan Doyle believed that Houdini achieved his tricks through spiritualism. Indeed, he wrote to the escapologist imploring him to use his psychic powers more profitably for the common good instead of just prostituting his talent every night at the Alhambra. However, Houdini repeatedly denounced spiritualism and disclaimed any psychic element to his act.

The alternative explanation for his feats of escapism was that Houdini could do unnatural things with his body. It is widely held that he could dislocate his shoulders to escape from straitjackets, and that he could somehow contract his wrists in order to escape from handcuffs. His ability to spend long periods in confined spaces is cited as evidence that he could put his body into suspended animation, as Indian fakirs are supposed to do.

This is all nonsense. If you ever find yourself in a straitjacket, it’s difficult to imagine anything less helpful than a dislocated shoulder. Contracting your wrists is not only unhelpful but, frankly, impossible because the bones of your wrist are very tightly packed together and the whole structure is virtually incompressible.

As for suspended animation, the trick of surviving burial and drowning relies on the fact that you can live for short periods on the air in a confined space. The air shifted by an average person in a day would occupy a cube just eight feet square. The build-up of carbon monoxide tends to pollute this supply, but, if you can relax, the air in a coffin should keep you going for half an hour or so.

In other words, there was nothing physically remarkable about Houdini except for his bravery, dexterity and fitness. His nerve was so cool that he could relax in a coffin six feet underground until they came to dig him up. His fingers were so strong that he could undo a buckle or manipulate keys through the canvas of a straitjacket or a mail bag. He made a comprehensive study of locks and was able to conceal lock-picks about his person in a way which fooled even the doctors who examined him. When they locked him in the prison van he still had a hacksaw blade with which to saw through the joins in the metal lining and get access to the planks of the floor.

As an entertainer he combined all this strength and ingenuity with a lot of trickery. His stage escapes took place behind a curtain with an orchestra playing to disguise the banging and sawing. The milk churn in which he was locked had a double lining so that, while the lid was locked onto the rim, the rim was not actually attached to the churn Houdini merely had to stand up to get out. The mail sack he cut open at the seam and sewed up with similar thread. The bank safe from which he emerged had been secretly worked on by his mechanics for 24 hours before the performance.

All Houdini’s feats are eminently explicable, although to explain them, even now, is a kind of heresy. Houdini belongs to that band of mythical supermen who, we like to believe, were capable of miracles and would still be alive today were it not for some piece of low trickery. Its said of Houdini that a punch in his belly when he wasn’t prepared for it caused his burst appendix Anatomically, it's virtually impossible that a punch could puncture your gut, but the story endures Somehow the myth of the superman has an even greater apical than the edifice of twentieth century logic.

A. Multiple-choice questions. Choose the best answer. Support your opinion by the facts from the text

1. Houdini’s burial alive is mentioned to show that

a. his tricks sometimes went disastrously wrong.

b. he was not always able to do what he claimed he could.

c. he was capable of extraordinary feats of survival.

d. he had overcome his fear of confined spaces.

2. The writer of the text suggests that Conan Doyle

a. was less rational and analytical than one might have expected.

b. asked Houdini if he could include him in a Sherlock Holmes story.

c. felt that Houdini could make more money in other ways.

d. thought there were scientific explanations for all of Houdini’s feats.
3. The writer suggests that Houdini

a. had an unusual bone structure.

b. needed less air than most people.

c. was able to put himself in a trance.

d. was not physically abnormal.
4. Houdini was able to escape from straitjackets by

a. using hidden lock-picks.

b. undoing buckles through the material.

c. cutting the canvas with hacksaw.

d. turning keys he had concealed.
5. When Houdini escaped from the milk churn

  1. the role of the orchestra was important.

  2. he made use of the hacksaw to escape.

  3. the container had been worked on beforehand.

  4. he was in full sight of the audience.

6. According to the text, many people

    1. want to hear the scientific explanations for Houdini’s feats.

    2. prefer to believe that Houdini had mystical powers.

    3. think that Houdini is still alive today.

    4. do not believe that Houdini ever really existed.

B. Language focus. Could, was able to, managed to. The article discusses at length what Houdini could and couldn’t do. In the following sentences, discuss whether it is possible to use the forms of be able to, could or both of these.

    1. Houdini … escape from chains and padlocks, from ropes and canvas sacks.

    2. They once hung him upside down in a straitjacket and he … break free in minutes.

    3. When he was in the coffin, he … hear the sound of footsteps above him.

    4. Until now, no one has … explain how he did these things.

    5. Perhaps in the future someone might … repeat some of his feats.

In the following sentences, discuss whether it is possible to use forms of manage to or could.

      1. Some people thought that Houdini … put himself into suspended animation.

      2. Once he … stay underground in a coffin for half an hour, without using up the air.

      3. When he was in the coffin, he … hear muffled voices above him.

      4. One day someone might … repeat some of his more daring feats.

      5. So far nobody … copy all of Houdini’s dramatic escapes.

C. Word formation. There is a tendency to anglicize the plurals of the nouns of foreign origin (genius-geniuses), but some of them retain their original plural form. Fill this chart, trying to work out the missing forms







D. Vocabulary practice. Translate into Russian paying attention to the meanings of active vocabulary words

  1. Every time we solve a problem another one pops up.

  2. The football club tried to tempt the player with offers of money.

  3. The leader of the opposition party was quick to denounce the gov­ernment's new tax law.

  4. I make no claim to be a paragon of virtue.

  5. He was blessed with small income and phenomenal skill to extract money from the most unpromising situations.

  6. After the accident he was confined to bed.

  7. She enjoyed being a traffic warden, as she didn't like working in confined spaces.

  8. Rock climbing demands excellent fitness, coordination and above all cool nerve.

  9. Trying to escape responsibility he disclaimed all knowledge of the incident.

  10. The mob burst into the room.

  11. When animals (e.g., bears) hibernate in the winter, they enter a state of suspended animation.

  12. The audience was amazed at the pianist's dexterity; his hands liter­ally flew over the keys.

  13. She was denied the victory in the tournament as she was caught at some low trickery.

  14. Police were astounded by the ingenuity of the latest museum theft.

  15. She waited in long suspense for the doctor’s opinion.

  16. When you see ancient cars rolling along the streets of Havana you realize that the Cubans are forced to perform feats of engineering to keep them going.

  17. Although the company belongs to his father he is the virtual head of the business.

  18. It is widely held that intelligent people do not trust their health to psychics, clairvoyants and other charlatans.

  19. He was quick to learn all the tricks of the trade.

  20. Knowing that his fiancée had just broken off their engagement, we found his rude behavior explicable but by no means acceptable.

  21. A feat is an act that requires either high skill or bravery.

  22. The granaries are bursting with grain.

  23. It was brave of him to enter the burning building.

E. Vocabulary practice. Translate into English

  1. Моему другу несколько раз удалось предсказать результаты экзаменов. Был велик соблазн предположить, что он обладает экстрасенсорными способностями.

  2. Многие религии основаны на вере в переселение душ, что полностью опровергается христианством.

  3. Он не мог служить на подводной лодке, так как боялся замкнутых пространств.

  4. Бытует мнение, что индийские факиры способны приостанавливать жизненные процессы.

  5. Пробормотав что-то невнятное, гадалка проворно схватила деньги и исчезла.

  6. Раньше оккультным наукам уделялось большое внимание, так как велика была вера человека в необъяснимое.

  7. Он совершил множество чудесных подвигов и прославился своей храбростью и смекалкой.

  8. Режиссер держал поклонников своего таланта в томительном ожидании, отрицая что работает над новым шедевром.

  9. Роберт – образец хорошего вкуса, ты никогда не увидишь его одетым старомодно или вульгарно.

  10. Я скептически отношусь к идее о существовании потустороннего, все в мире должно быть объяснимо, просто многие явления пока не изучены.

  11. Вот это самообладание! Он всегда жульничает играя в карты, а когда его ловят на этом, начисто отрицает, что козыри выпали из его рукава.

  12. Даже новички могут пользоваться этой программой, так как все подсказки написаны простым человеческим языком.

  13. Он не мог устоять перед соблазном украсть что-нибудь. Как только предоставлялась возможность, он действовал с удивительным проворством.

  14. Временами ему казалось, что это уже с ним происходило и тогда его охватывало непонятное чувство тревоги. Но он убеждал себя, что это всего лишь обман зрения или просто игра воображения.

  15. Члены совета директоров осудили политику нового управляющего, они просто кипели возмущением.

F. Speaking. Discuss the following concentrating on using active vocabulary

1. Describe in detail the feats that seem the most impressive to you.

2. What moral and physical qualities enabled Harry Houdini to perform his feats?

3. What tricks did he employ and after which purpose?

4. Why does Houdini remain an entertainment phenomenon of the 20th century?

4 Rendering

Scan through the following text and learn more about Houdini. Pick out the information that was not mentioned in the main text and seems relevant to you; incorporate it into your story about Houdini. The underlined words should be rendered by active vocabulary of this year.
Гарри Гудини
Эрих Вейс — настоящее имя Гарри Гудини — родился в маленьком американском городке Аплтон в штате Висконсин в семье венгерского эмигранта. Еще в раннем детстве Эрих проявлял необыкновенную любознательность, постоянно приставая к старшим с вопросом: «А что там внутри?». Вслед за имевшимися в доме игрушками объектом его самостоятельных исследований стали вещи посложнее, например, часы, которые он быстро научился разбирать и собирать, причем, что самое удивительное, они ходили. Поскольку маленький Эрих был сластеной, а конфеты и домашнее печенье у Вейсов хранились в запертом буфете, мальчик приступил к освоению его замков и добился поразительных для своего возраста успехов: хотя отец менял запоры, сладости продолжали исчезать.

Впрочем, как позднее вспоминал Гудини, дело было не столько в лакомствах, сколько в восхищении братьев и сестер. Когда же маленьким зрителям надоели замки, он перешел к фокусам с монетами, картами, лентами.

Когда Эриху Вейсу исполнилось девять лет, в его жизни произошло знаменательное событие. В Аплтон приехал передвижной цирк Джэка Хефлера, и маленькие поклонники чуть ли не силком заставили своего кумира предложить услуги в качестве артиста. Проба прошла удачно, причем хозяину цирка больше всего понравился оригинальный номер, придуманный самим Эрихом: подвешенный за ноги мальчик ухитрялся собрать рассыпанные на арене булавки с помощью бровей и ресниц.

В одиннадцать лет ради будущих выступлений в цирке Эрих Вейс бросил школу. Прежде всего он решил серьезно заняться своим первым детским увлечением - замками. Чтобы досконально познать принципы устройства замков Эрих поступает учеником в слесарную мастерскую. Через несколько месяцев он не только сравнялся в мастерстве со своим учителем, но и обогнал его, придумав, как делать из кусочка проволоки отмычку, открывавшую любые замки.

Замки замками, однако подросток не забывал и о других обязательных атрибутах профессии фокусника: трюках с картами, лентами и т.п. Но больше всего времени он уделял физической тренировке, развивая гибкость суставов, «качая» мускулы, вырабатывая выносливость. В шестнадцать лет Эрих купил у букиниста толстенный растрепанный том под названием «Мемуары Роберта Гудина, посла, писателя и мага, написанные им самим», который стал для Вейса своего рода библией на целые месяцы.

Первые шаги Гарри Гудини в цирковом мире были весьма скромными. Вместе с младшим братом Теодором он выступал с бродячими труппами на провинциальных ярмарках, выставках, благотворительных вечерах, а кульминацией их номера «Братья Гудини — освобождение от оков» был трюк с деревянным ящиком, имевшим выдвижную доску. Во время одного из представлений Эрих Вейс познакомился с совсем еще юной девицей Беатрисой Ранер, которая вскоре стала его женой и постоянной ассистенткой на долгие годы.

Вскоре Тео стал выступать отдельно, а Гарри составил дуэт с Бесс - он теперь назывался супруги Гудини.

 В 1898 году Гудини поссорился с руководством газеты, делавшей ему рекламу и регулярно передававшей приглашения выступить в качестве мага или мастера побегов и исчезновений. Поэтому в 1899 году карьера Гудини пошла на убыль, и тогда они вместе с Бесс отправились на теплоходе в Европу. Европейская публика никогда не видела ничего похожего на выступление супругов Гудини. В их шоу было очень мало магии, зато оно изобиловало номерами, суть которых заключалась во всевозможных освобождениях. 
Добившись широкой популярности в Европе, Гудини все-таки с ностальгией вспоминал Америку. В Соединенные Штаты он вернулся звездой первой величины, а его гонорары были несравнимы с теми суммами, которые когда бы то ни было получал фокусник. Где бы он ни выступал, он всегда производил фурор.

За всей кажущейся легкостью исполнения труднейшего трюка, для непосвященного действительно граничившей с волшебством, стояли бесконечные, утомительные тренировки. Друзья семьи Гудини позднее рассказывали, что даже в часы отдыха во время оживленной беседы он доставал из кармана колоду карт и принимался проделывать всевозможные хитроумные манипуляции. Сам знаменитый иллюзионист расценивал секрет своих удивительных трюков иначе: «Во всех случаях главное для меня победить страх».

В 1926 году Гарри Гудини начал подготовку к небывалому трюку. Он намеревался на глазах зрителей дать вморозить себя в глыбу льда, а потом без посторонней помощи и без всяких инструментов освободиться из ледяного плена. В октябре, будучи на гастролях в Монреале, иллюзионист выступил в местном университете с лекцией, в которой разоблачал шарлатанов- спиритов. Во время перерыва перед началом представления он прошел в отведенную ему комнату и прилег на диван немного отдохнуть, просматривая поступившие из зала записки. В этот момент к нему явились трое студентов, горевших желанием лично познакомиться с «королем магов». Их интересовало, есть ли предел человеческим возможностям и, в частности, правда ли то, что сам Гудини может переносить сильнейшие удары без всяких отрицательных последствий. Иллюзионист подтвердил это, добавив, что в таких случаях он должен заранее соответствующим образом подготовить себя, и продолжил читать записки.

Внезапно один из студентов вскочил и стал изо всех сил бить лежащего Гудини кулаком в живот. После четвертого удара Гарри жестом остановил его. Поговорив еще немного студенты ушли. Гудини хотел было вернуться к запискам, но вдруг почувствовал острую боль в области живота. Несколько минут он массировал и разминал мускулы, а затем отправился на сцену. Ночью боли возобновились, но Гудини на следующий день все же дал дневное и вечернее представления, хотя в перерывах пластом лежал на кушетке у себя в артистической уборной, обливаясь холодным потом. Вечером в поезде, который мчал его в Детройт, состояние Гарри Гудини ухудшилось. Обеспокоенные ассистенты послали телеграмму с просьбой, чтобы прямо на вокзале их встретил врач.

Прямо с поезда Гудини отвезли в больницу и положили на операционный стол. Диагноз был настолько неутешителен — гангренозный аппендикс и острый перитонит, — что, по мнению врачей, больному оставалось жить не больше 12 часов. Однако когда Гудини очнулся от наркоза, то решительно заявил, что не собирается сдаваться. Действительно, вопреки прогнозам медиков, больной был жив и через день, и через два, и через три... Врачи разводили руками, а почитатели «короля магов» по всему миру, дважды в день с нетерпением читавшие бюллетени о состоянии его здоровья, торжествовали: их кумир еще раз доказал, что для него нет ничего невозможного. И вдруг на седьмые сутки Гарри Гудини попросил вызвать своего брата Теодора. Когда тот вошел в палату, Эрих Вейс, ставший «великим волшебником» Гарри Гудини, слабо улыбнулся ему и едва слышно сказал: «Я устал бороться, Тео. На этот раз я, кажется, проиграл».

В день столетия со дня его рождения - 6 апреля 1974 года - должно было быть вскрыто завещание Гудини в котором, предположительно, великий иллюзионист раскрывал свои секреты потомкам. Однако к величайшему разочарованию поклонников мира таинств и иллюзий ни 6 апреля, ни позже завещание так и не обнаружилось, ибо, как показало проведенное журналистами расследование, его просто не существовало.

Слава Гарри Гудини была настолько громкой, что в обиходе американцев даже появился глагол «гудинайз», означающий «умение выпутаться из трудного положения».

5 Story telling

Arrange the following points into your outline for the story about Houdini. Use the worked out plan to tell the story. Do not forget using active vocabulary!

  • Character

  • Biographical facts

  • Family

  • Introduction

  • Conclusion

  • Examples of the feats

  • Unique abilities

  • Used trickery

  • Circumstances of death

  • Reasons for success with the public

6 Vocabulary

A. Expressions. The article used the word tie in its literal sense: … he somehow untied himself. They tied him up in a locked packing case… In sentences 1-5 below, which of the phrasal verbs with tie mean the following?

a. to organize

b. to correlate

c. to be busy

d. to be invested on a long-term basis

e. to restrict

  1. I’m afraid I can’t make our lunch date today – I’m tied up at the office.

  2. It’ll take a few weeks for me to get the cash – most of my money is tied up in stocks and shares.

  3. The police held the two suspects for further questioning because their stories did not tie in with each other.

  4. He’s a freelance journalist – he says he’d feel tied down if he worked for just one paper.

  5. The expedition is all arranged except for one or two small details that need to be tied up.

B. Fill in the blanks with a suitable phrasal verb with tie.

1. The contract is nearly ready to be signed – there are just one or two loose ends that need …

2. He’s reluctant to get married because of his fear of …

3. I’m sorry I’m so late – I … because of those visitors and I couldn’t get away.

4. That newsflash from Reuters seemed … the rumours they had heard that morning about the Prime Minister.

5. She only has a small income as most of her money … in property.

C. Translate into Russian

  1. She's been so tied up with work lately that her friends are beginning to worry about her being a "workaholic".

  2. You'd never know that Tom has thousands of pounds tied up in long-term bank accounts; he never seems to have enough money even for necessities.

  3. Do you think all the hot weather we have had the last few summers is really tied in with the greenhouse effect and the hole in the ozone layer?

  4. John's just not ready to commit himself to a long-term relationship yet. He thinks it will make him feel tied down.

  5. We had another meeting today to tie up our plans for Mary's sur­prise party.

D. Translate into English

    1. Я не могу работать под его руководством. Я чувствую себя ограниченным в действиях.

    2. К завтрашнему дню условия поставки должны быть согласованы.

    3. Проект казался соблазнительным, но он боялся вкладывать деньги в долгосрочные предприятия.

    4. Перезвони мне вечером. Я сейчас очень занят из-за большого наплыва посетителей.

    5. Он боялся связать себя обещаниями, так как в любую минуту могла подвернуться более выгодная работа.

    6. В последний момент появился свидетель, показания которого совершенно не совпадали с официальной версией убийства.

7 Grammar review

A. Must, mustn’t and variations. Join up the two parts of the following sentences before answering the questions below.

  1. He must be in the garden ...

  2. The application form must be returned ...

  3. The back door must be locked so…

  1. The back door must be locked ...

  2. He should have been wearing a tie ...

  3. I had to study Latin ...

  4. He was supposed to pick Jane up from the airport...

8. You must have sent the letter to the wrong address

a because I can't open it.

b but his car broke down.

c because I can hear the lawn mower.

d that burglars don't get in.

e because it never arrived.

f by the end of next week at the latest.

g when I was eleven.

h but he wasn't, so they didn't let him into the restaurant.

  1. Which sentences express a definite positive deduction?

  2. Which sentences express a present or future obligation?

  3. Which sentences express a past obligation that was not fulfilled?

  4. Which sentence expresses a past obligation that was fulfilled?

  5. Which forms of the infinitive can follow must to express obligation?

  6. Which forms of the infinitive can be used with must to express deduction?

Transformations. Rewrite the following sentences.

1 It is essential that you get to the airport on time.


2 I am convinced that there is some mistake with this bill - it's astronomical.


3 You should have got here over an hour ago - what kept you?


4 If you hadn't been speeding, the police wouldn't have stopped you.

You must ………………………………………………………

5 They made us go to church every Sunday when we were at school.

We had

6 It's a pity you didn't come to the party, because you'd have loved it.

You should

7 It is essential that no one is told about our plans.


8 It was wrong of you not to call the doctor at once.

You should ………………………………………………………

B. Necessity and lack of necessity. Need and should. The forms needed to, didn't need to, needn't have and should (n't) have are each used in specific limited circumstances, the correct choice depending on the necessity of the actions and whether or not the action took place. Read through the sample sentences

  1. They said we needed to have a vaccination so we did/ but we never got round to it.

  2. They said we didn't need to have any vaccinations but we did anyway, just to be on the safe side/ so we didn't.

They said we needn't have had any vaccinations but by then it was too late because we'd already had them.

  1. They said we should have had vaccinations and that was why they were refusing us entry.

5 They said we shouldn't have had vaccinations because they were now thought to be unsafe.
Say which of the following forms show the features below.

needed to should have shouldn't have didn't need to needn't have

  1. action was not necessary, but has already been taken anyway

  2. action was necessary or obligatory, and it was wrong not to have taken it

  3. action was not necessary, or was prohibited, and it was wrong to have taken it

  4. action was not necessary, and may or may not have been taken subsequently

  5. action was necessary and may or may not have been taken subsequently

Fill in the blanks below. Use either needed to, didn't need to, should have, needn't have or shouldn't have and a suitable verb. The first one has been done as an example.

1 I didn’t need to take, the parcel to the Post Office because Sonia very kindly took it for me.

2 We discovered when we arrived on the island that we ……………... in advance because there were lots of villas for rent.

3 We only realized when we got to the island that we …………………………. in advance as there was nowhere to stay.

4 Although we ………………………………….. comprehensive insurance, we got it anyway just to be on the safe side.

5 I think you deserve to be punished – you ……………………….. the car without asking your father first.

6 He told the taxi driver he …………………………………… to the airport as quickly as possible, as the plane was due to leave soon.

7 I ………………………… so much time worrying about the test, because in the end it was really easy and I passed first time.

8 The policeman was furious with me and said that I ……………………………………….. so fast in a residential area.

C. Can, could, may and might

Look at sentences 1-10. In which of the sentences do the modal verbs express the following?

a ability

b permission

c deduction / supposition

d future possibility

e irritation

f an unfulfilled possibility
1 It's very late in the day to cancel - I do think you might have let me know a little earlier.

2 He could have been a great politician, but he chose instead to become a priest.

3 Judging from the architecture, this photo might have been taken in Spain.

  1. I was wondering whether I could come and see you next week.

  2. You can't have phoned on Tuesday, because I was in all day.

6 It was such a bad line, I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

  1. You could have phoned to tell us you were all right. Why on earth didn't you ring?

  2. There could be severe unrest if the economy doesn't improve before the winter.

9 Excuse me, sir. Might I ask whether you intend to stay at the hotel for another night?

10 If I pass all my exams, I may take a year off and travel round the world.

Sentences 1-5 below can be completed in two ways. Match each sentence with two possible endings, then discuss how the meaning of the modal verb changes in each pair
EXAMPLE 1 d, h

1d They could have sold their house if they had been more flexible about the price.

The first part of this sentence could be rephrased as: ‘They would have been able to sell their house …’. Could expresses ability.

1h They could have sold their house so they might not be able to put you up.

The first part of this sentence could be rephrased as: ‘Maybe they have sold their house…”. Could expresses speculation.

  1. They could have sold their house ...

  2. You may see Peter tonight...

  3. My car can‘t be stolen ...

  4. You might have written to us …

  5. He could have caught an early train…

a because it's impossible to open the door without the right key.

b because we went to a lot of trouble preparing for your visit.

c as long as you do all your homework first.

d if they had been more flexible about the price.

e but our filing system is in a mess, so I have no record of it.

f so he might be here in half an hour or so.

g because I bought it from a reputable dealer.

h so they might not be able to put you up.

i because he said he'd try and come to the parry.

j but he decided to spend the night in London

8 Structure

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