# 'must' for probability

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• 07-Aug-2012, 20:41
birdeen's call
Re: 'must' for probability
I agree about your examples, but I think mine is less clear. I agree that your reading of it is possible -- I didn't think of it when I made it up. I understand you read the "right" as a kind of rhetorical question. But I think it could also be a genuine expression of doubt or even soliciting confirmation. I believe intonation and facial expression matter here. Imagine that the person is saying the "right" with a rising intonation and with a facial expression similar to this. (It's not exactly the expression I wanted, but I can't describe it, and that's the closest I've been able to find.) Perhaps a "surely" instead of the "right" would be more convincing, but it can also be pronounced in different ways denoting different modalities in my opinion. Even without the "right" or "surely", I believe uncertainty could be conveyed by the intonation of "must", perhaps accompanied with this gesture and the facial expression.
• 07-Aug-2012, 21:46
5jj
Re: 'must' for probability
Quote:

Originally Posted by birdeen's call
I agree about your examples, but I think mine is less clear. I agree that your reading of it is possible -- [etc]

I cannot disagree with anything you say - and your excellent command of English makes it possible for you to understand that that does not necessarily mean that I agree with everything you say. ;-).
Quote:

(It's not exactly the expression I wanted, but I can't describe it, and that's the closest I've been able to find.)
I understand exactly (please accept that I did not mean to sound smug/arrogant there). After more than forty years of work, I feel that I have a fair understanding of how tense and aspect are used in English, but I still, like Palmer and many others, find modals 'messy' (Modality and the English Modals (Palmer, 1979, p.39)).
Quote:

I believe intonation and facial expression matter here.
I agree. That is one of the things that makes abstract discussion of the words so difficult.
• 08-Aug-2012, 08:19
5jj
Re: 'must' for probability
Quote:

Originally Posted by hughchan2009
For the 1st one, I would use ‘He will return' or ' He has to return'.
for the 2nd, I would say ' he will win the game'.
I cannot tell why and I am not a native speaker~ ;-)

I realise that you are just trying to build up posts so that you can post a link to your survey, but please don't give answers if you have no justification for them.
• 24-May-2013, 19:01
Explorer
Re: 'must' for probability
1. Is it correct to use the circumtances of time in 'he must have done that yesterday'?

2. Can 'he must visit them every day' express the idea 'he probably visit them every day'?

• 24-May-2013, 19:46
Tdol
Re: 'must' for probability
1 Yes
2 The meaning to me is more like I am sure that he visits them...
• 24-May-2013, 19:49
5jj
Re: 'must' for probability
Quote:

Originally Posted by Explorer
1. Is it correct to use the circumstances of time in 'he must have done that yesterday'?

Sorry, but I don't understand your question. He must have done that yesterday is fine
Quote:

2. Can 'he must visit them every day' express the idea 'he probably visits them every day'?
It can.
• 25-May-2013, 00:32
Re: 'must' for probability
hi,
Please note I'm not a native speaker nor a teacher;
Quote:

Originally Posted by birdeen's call
I agree about your examples, but I think mine is less clear. I agree that your reading of it is possible -- I didn't think of it when I made it up. I understand you read the "right" as a kind of rhetorical question. But I think it could also be a genuine expression of doubt or even soliciting confirmation. I believe intonation and facial expression matter here. Imagine that the person is saying the "right" with a rising intonation and with a facial expression similar to this. (It's not exactly the expression I wanted, but I can't describe it, and that's the closest I've been able to find.) Perhaps a "surely" instead of the "right" would be more convincing, but it can also be pronounced in different ways denoting different modalities in my opinion. Even without the "right" or "surely", I believe uncertainty could be conveyed by the intonation of "must", perhaps accompanied with this gesture and the facial expression.

No disrespect but I really can't imagine a native English speaker saying "right" or "surely" or "mustn't it" with raising intonation. I think it might be your polish speaking ;-), as for uncertainty I personally would go for "can't". I really can't imagine myself using must for uncertainty.

I don't get it. With all the balloons and the funny hats and stuff, it must have been a lot of fun, right? How come then my son won't speak to me? He's acting like I've done something wrong

I would consider that the "must" expresses the speaker perception of the situation "I strongly believe that it was a lot of fun". As for me, the doubt arises from confrontation with their sons reaction and it's marked by the question tag "really?" and "I don't get it" not by "must" on its own.

I just realised that I'm unable to define necessity, obligation and expectation without using the word "must" - perhaps that's why it's so difficult to discuss the modality of that word.

cheers
• 25-May-2013, 00:43
Tdol
Re: 'must' for probability
I agree with Birdeen's Call- a native speaker could IMO use a rising intonation for "doubt or even soliciting confirmation".
• 25-May-2013, 00:59
Re: 'must' for probability
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tdol
I agree with Birdeen's Call- a native speaker could IMO use a rising intonation for "doubt or even soliciting confirmation".

:-|:cry:
so countless hours spent learning to drop the intonation when using question tags can go down the drain.
Raising intonation is characteristic of Polish equivalent of question tags: prawda? nieprawdaż? Whereas I was corrected on countless occasion to drop the intonation when using question tags in English.

ps. I'm sorry for getting a bit off topic in my defence
• 25-May-2013, 01:13
Tdol
Re: 'must' for probability
Question tags can go up or down, depending on the meaning, which can range from confirmation through surprise to and genuine question,etc.
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