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Av2 Grammar Bank 3A

January 25, 2013

SPECULATION AND DEDUCTION

a 1 Someone must’ve moved them
2 correct, 3 I think it could/may/might* (possibility) be the neigbour’s cat, 4 correct, 5 She definitely won’t like it (because “will” is negative, cf. She’ll definitely like it), 6 Julian is bound to be late, 7 correct, 8 I think she must still be studying (also, she must be still studying), 9 correct

In theory, you are meant /ment/ to use “might” for a more remote possibility than that indicated by “may”, but in practice, we also use “might” when we feel we want to avoid sounding intrusive, or wish to be tactful (for whichever reason). This means, for instance, I would say “It might be the neighbours’ cat” with “might” because I’m actually explaining the possible reason for a noise, attributing it to someone (the neighbours, who are responsible for the cat). If I don’t feel that, I’ll probably say “It could be…” or “It may be…” So as you can see, subjectivity plays a role when we use the modals (and also some tenses).

b 1 He probably won’t have time to call in and see us (“probably” goes where it goes because “will” is negative), 2 She may never get over the break-up, 3 They should’ve heard the news by now, 4 I can’t have left my credit card in the restaurant, 5 Your sister is bound to like the scarf, 6 The company director is unlikely to resign despite…, 7 He must’ve been in love with her… 8 Did you definitely lock the back door? (alternative wording for the same idea: Are you positive you locked the back door?), 9 it’s likely the couple will get divorced soon.

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