Modals of speculation about the past

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Modals of speculation about the past

  1. 1. <ul><li>When can we use them? </li></ul><ul><li>We use the modal verbs must, may, might, could or can’t to speculate about events in the past. </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>LESS CERTAIN: may, might and could </li></ul><ul><li>MORE CERTAIN: must </li></ul><ul><li>Certain that the statement is false: can’t, couldn’t </li></ul>
  3. 4. We use must to make deductions when we are almost sure or more certain.
  4. 5. For past deductions we use must + have + past participle : He’d been working for 10 hours when I saw him. He must have been very tired.
  5. 6. We use can’t to make negative deductions from evidence . .
  6. 7. For past we use can’t + have + past participle : He can’t have failed the exam. He’s a very good student!
  7. 8. We use may/ might / could to make speculations (i.e. when there is no evidence ).
  8. 9. We use may / might / could + have + past participle for past: He may/might/ could have phoned while you were out. The answer phone was switched off.
  9. 10. Deduction must have and can't have + past participle The plane ________ ________ run out of fuel. It _________ ________ blown up in mid-air.
  10. 11. Speculation could/may/might have + past participle What could ________ happened to them? They could _____ _____ up on a desert island. Earhart and Noonan may _____ _____ US spies. Aliens _______ _______ abducted them.
  11. 12. We use ________ ________ when we are sure something happened. We use ________ ________ when we are sure something didn't happen. We use _______ _______ ______ ______ to talk about what possibly happened.

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