Modal verbs to express deduction (to make a guess)


modal verbs imagine

- Bianca is not here. She must be at school. (= or more than 90% YES)

100% - certain: Bianca is at school.

- Rares comes today, but he is late. He might be on the bus. (= or more than 50%)

100% certain: Rares is on the bus.

- Father is not here, where is he? 

I don’t know, he could be in the supermarket. (= or more than 50%)

100% certain: Father is in the supermarket. 

- Where is the father? It is so late, he can't be still in the supermarket.! (= or more 90% NO)

When we express deduction or make a guess, we don’t use 'mustn’t' as the opposite of 'must', but 'can’t'.

'Can’t' is the opposite of 'must'.

90% YES -> MUST

90% NO -> CAN’T (not mustn’t)

50% YES -> COULD or MIGHT

Exercise: Use must or can’t

  1. Andra isn’t at school. (100% = certain)

Andra can’t be at school (90 % NO)

  1. All the children are in the restaurant. (100% = certain)

All the children must be in the restaurant. (90% YES)

  1. The test isn’t difficult. (100% = certain)

The test can’t be difficult. (90% NO)

  1. Where is Rares, he is not here.

He is on his way. (100% = certain)

He must be on his way. (90% YES)

  1. The Pharmacy/Chemist isn’t closed. (100% = certain)

The Pharmacy/Chemist can’t be closed. (90% NO)

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