Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,308
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Can "must" also work here? "Must" can mean either "have to fail" which is awkward, or "a certainty" that seems to make sense.

    ex)If you don't study, you (must, might) fail the exam.

  2. #2
    JohnParis's Avatar
    JohnParis is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • France
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Nothing is a certainty until it happens and the only option that will work in your sentence is "might".
    If you don't study, you might fail the exam.

    In the context you have provided, "must" will not work because it means you are obliged/required to fail. But since you have not taken the exam yet, you are not required to fail. Who knows, you may become inspired and get all the questions correct.
    The probability of failure is high but its certainty cannot be validated until after the exam. So, it's "might".

    John

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,308
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnParis View Post
    Nothing is a certainty until it happens and the only option that will work in your sentence is "might".
    If you don't study, you might fail the exam.

    In the context you have provided, "must" will not work because it means you are obliged/required to fail. But since you have not taken the exam yet, you are not required to fail. Who knows, you may become inspired and get all the questions correct.
    The probability of failure is high but its certainty cannot be validated until after the exam. So, it's "might".

    John
    Then, if the student is so lazy and you want to warn him how a possible failure of the exam hurts, how serious it is,
    You can say "I'm hundred percent sure you will fail" or "It's quite certain you will fail".
    But is it because you can't say "you must fail the exam" as "must" means a certainty as a state verb like the following instead of an obligation as an action verb ?
    ex) John has always wanted to meet Jane. He must love her.(certainty for a state verb)

  4. #4
    JohnParis's Avatar
    JohnParis is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • France
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    I'll try and make this easier.

    You are in an airplane that has crash landed. You are not dead, but you must get out of the burning fuselage to save your life.

    John has always wanted to meet Jane. He must love her.
    No!
    How do you know whether or not he loves her? All he wants to do is to meet her. He has heard someone talk about her for many years and he is curious to meet her.
    He has never even laid eyes on her - how could he possibly know if he loves her?
    John has always wanted to meet Jane. Maybe he is in love with her.

    In all probability you are going to fail the exam. Everything indicates that you will fail the exam.

    John

  5. #5
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,308
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnParis View Post
    I'll try and make this easier.

    You are in an airplane that has crash landed. You are not dead, but you must get out of the burning fuselage to save your life.

    John has always wanted to meet Jane. He must love her.
    No! How do you know whether or not he loves her? All he wants to do is to meet her. He has heard someone talk about her for many years and he is curious to meet her.
    He has never even laid eyes on her - how could he possibly know if he loves her?
    John has always wanted to meet Jane. Maybe he is in love with her.

    In all probability you are going to fail the exam. Everything indicates that you will fail the exam.

    John
    Then, when do you use "must"?

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    22,297
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Then, when do you use "must"?
    "You are in an airplane that has crash landed. You are not dead, but you must get out of the burning fuselage to save your life."
    This is a good example from JohnParis.

  7. #7
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,308
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "You are in an airplane that has crash landed. You are not dead, but you must get out of the burning fuselage to save your life."
    This is a good example from JohnParis.
    No, not in terms of obligation, but in certainty, "must" has two meanings, I think you must know it(must here means certainty)

  8. #8
    JohnParis's Avatar
    JohnParis is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • France
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    774
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    This is from Roget's Thesaurus (NOT the dictionary):
    must - verb
    I must go ought to, should, have (got) to, need to, be obliged to, be required to, be compelled to.

    I think you must know it (must here means certainty).
    No, this is an opinion. Your opinion, Keannu.
    I, Keannu, think you must know .....
    It is extremely presumptuous and condescending to say or write "I think you must know..." You may hear it, and you may see it written, but it is what I have said it is.

    This from the Oxford Dictionary of the English language:
    must 1 modal verb ( past had to or in reported speech must )
    1 be obliged to; should (expressing necessity) : you must show your ID card.

    Now, Keannu, I think that is about all I can do for you on this thread. I have attempted to explain the use of "must" and I must now beg your leave.

    John

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    John has always wanted to meet Jane. He must love her.(certainty for a state verb)
    I agree with what JohnParis has said about obligation, but keannu is correct here. 'must' can denote 'logical certainty' - in BrE at least:

    Fred isn't home yet.

    He must be on the later train.
    He must have caught the later train.
    He must be working late tonight.

    He must love her.
    -The evidence leads us to this conclusion.

  10. #10
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,308
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: you (must, might) fail the exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I agree with what JohnParis has said about obligation, but keannu is correct here. 'must' can denote 'logical certainty' - in BrE at least:

    Fred isn't home yet.

    He must be on the later train.
    He must have caught the later train.
    He must be working late tonight.

    He must love her. -The evidence leads us to this conclusion.
    Going back to the original question, what I asked was in terms of "logical certainty" not "obligation" of "must". This is a question in my grammar book, and my student chose "must" when the answer is "might", but I couldn't explain well why "must" doesn't work. If you are almost hundred percent sure of some future event, you may say "you must fail the exam" unless "fail" is only an action verb related to obligation.

    ==================================================
    Can "must" also work here? "Must" can mean either "have to fail" which is awkward, or "a certainty" that seems to make sense.

    ex)If you don't study, you (must, might) fail the exam.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. [Vocabulary] usage of fail
    By OzkanS in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 25-Aug-2011, 12:52
  2. miss OR fail
    By majid72 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-Feb-2009, 11:50
  3. fail and hear
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 22-Sep-2008, 14:34
  4. Set up to fail
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 15-Nov-2007, 20:03

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •