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  1. #1
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    Default use of modal "must" with future meaning

    Is this grammatically correct:

    He must be going to be late.
    He must be going to be a scientist.
    He must be going to drink tea.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: use of modal "must" with future meaning

    Modal must is used to expresses certainty, necessity, strong recommendation, and prohibition.

    Future
    You must be a scientist. <certainty>
    You musn't be late. <prohibition>
    You mustn't drink tea. <strong recommendation>
    You must drink tea. <necessity>

    Now, to your examples:

    1. He must be going to be late. <certainty>
    2. He must be going to be a scientist. <certainty>
    3. He must be going to drink tea. <certainty>

    The pair must be going is grammatical; e.g. I noticed her bags are packed. She must be going to Iraq; however, with those constructs be going to takes a nominal, a location (i.e., be going to expresses movement, travel to a place), whereas with your examples, be going to expresses a plan of action.

    The examples are meaningful, but awkward:

    Example 3., the speaker is certain that the man plans to drink tea.
    Example 2., the speaker is certain the man's plan is to be a scientist.
    Example 1., the speaker is certain the man is going to be late.

    The problem--if speakers do indeed see one--is in the opposition, and degree of compatibility, here: must (certainty) + be going to (plan). It expresses both certainty and uncertainty.

    Does that help?

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: use of modal "must" with future meaning

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Modal must is used to expresses certainty, necessity, strong recommendation, and prohibition.

    Future
    You must be a scientist. <certainty>
    You musn't be late. <prohibition>
    You mustn't drink tea. <strong recommendation>
    You must drink tea. <necessity>

    Now, to your examples:

    1. He must be going to be late. <certainty>
    2. He must be going to be a scientist. <certainty>
    3. He must be going to drink tea. <certainty>

    The pair must be going is grammatical; e.g. I noticed her bags are packed. She must be going to Iraq; however, with those constructs be going to takes a nominal, a location (i.e., be going to expresses movement, travel to a place), whereas with your examples, be going to expresses a plan of action.

    The examples are meaningful, but awkward:

    Example 3., the speaker is certain that the man plans to drink tea.
    Example 2., the speaker is certain the man's plan is to be a scientist.
    Example 1., the speaker is certain the man is going to be late.

    The problem--if speakers do indeed see one--is in the opposition, and degree of compatibility, here: must (certainty) + be going to (plan). It expresses both certainty and uncertainty.

    Does that help?
    I agree that the certainty of 'must be' and the plan of 'going to' don't sit well together; this would work though - 'He must be coming soon.'

    It's possible for 'must be' and 'going to' to appear together, but the mixture of certainty and uncertainty implies something about the state of mind of the speaker.

    Example: 'He must be going to come soon. I know it. He wouldn't leave me here. He couldn't' [The reader/listener knows that the writer/speaker is 'clutching at straws' (=hanging on to hope unrealistically)]

    b

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