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  1. #1
    Explorer is offline Junior Member
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    'must' for probability

    Is it correct to use 'must' for expressing probability in sentences like

    'He must return, he's forgotten his umbrella.' (He will probably return, he's forgotten his umbrella)
    'He's trained much, he must win the game'. (He's trained much, he will probably win the game)

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    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'must' for probability

    "Must" is indeed sometimes used to mark probability in certain informal contexts. Examples:

    Given how well the Netherlands has been playing, they must surely win the championship this year.

    He has many umbrellas. He must have a hard time picking one.

    But it's not a good usage if there is the least possibility of confusion with the usual "must" of obligation or necessity. Therefore your second sentence is perhaps acceptable, although it should be avoided in formal writing. Your first sentence is very questionable, I think.

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    Re: 'must' for probability

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka;896754
    [I
    Given how well the Netherlands has been playing, they must surely win the championship this year.[/I]
    Which championship are you talking about? Surely not the Euro2012, they could have hardly done worse there
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'must' for probability


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    Re: 'must' for probability

    The use of 'must' to indicate logical certainty is not particularly informal.

    It is not generally used if there is a possibility of ambiguity. When it is clear that the present moment is being spoken of, then there is no problem; 'must's uggesting obligation almost always applies to something that must be done after the moment of speaking.

    'He must return, he's forgotten his umbrella.' (not for logical certainty)
    'He must be very wet; he's forgotten his umrella.' (fine for logical certainty)
    'They must win tomorrow, or I'll lose my bet.' (not for logical certainty)
    'They must win tomorrow after all the money they've spent on new players'. (possibly ambiguous)

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    Explorer is offline Junior Member
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    Re: 'must' for probability

    One question more in this topic.
    The sense of which expression of the two ones placed below is closer to the sense of 'He must be very wet...'
    'He is certainly very wet...'
    'He is probably very wet...'
    ?

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    Re: 'must' for probability

    Quote Originally Posted by hughchan2009 View Post
    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.

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    Explorer is offline Junior Member
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    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'?


    Thank you in advance.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: 'must' for probability

    1 Yes
    2 The meaning to me is more like I am sure that he visits them...
    Last edited by Tdol; 24-May-2013 at 20:14. Reason: Added: to me

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    Re: 'must' for probability

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    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
    2. Can 'he must visit them every day' express the idea 'he probably visits them every day'?
    It can.

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