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modal auxiliary

noun
1.
Grammar. any of the group of English auxiliary verbs, including can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, and must, that are used with the base form of another verb to express distinctions of mood.
Origin
1930-1935
1930-35
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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