Student or Learner
Imagine the following situation: you come to a shop and see that the cup you have been looking for is not in the shop window any longer. What will you say to your partner?
1. The cup is not on sale any longer. It must have been sold out.
2. It may/must be sold out.
Maybe the both variants are correct?
If it refers to an antique shop where there was just one of these cups, I would just say 'It has been sold.'-what do you think, Anglika?
Using may or might in the sentences: The speaker simply states a possibility and is relatively unsure about whether it's true or not.
Using must in the sentences: The speaker draws a logical conclusion which he/she feels is likely to be true.
I agree with Queenbu's point: You can't use 'out' if the sentence is referring to only one (unique) cup. 'Sold out' would mean that the shop had sold all of that type of cup and there are none of them left.
Thanks again =)
Last edited by Morpheus; 11-Feb-2007 at 20:40.
If, on the other hand, the speaker is focusing on the state of "soldness" // "soldoutedness", then the speaker would obviously choose the structure that reflects that; "must + present simple verb".
Philly made an important point that it appears a lot of ESLs seem to be missing. When modals are used in this epistemic sense [level of certainty sense] they express differing levels of certainty.
100% The cups are // were // have been sold out.
90-99% The cups must be/must have been sold out.
50-89% The cups probably are // probably were // probably have been sold out.
['probably' is a semi-modal, equal in certainty level to 'should' but semantically 'should' cannot be used here]
26-50% The cups may be // may have been sold out.
1-25% The cups might be / might have been sold out.
The ranges above are meant to give a relative feeling for the epistemic/certainty levels associated with these modal/semi-modals.
Last edited by riverkid; 12-Feb-2007 at 00:44.
Last edited by Philly; 12-Feb-2007 at 01:04.
Good. The reason why I asked my question is this: at the exam one of my colleagues said that "The cups must be sold out" is ungrammatical in the context because it means that somebody should sell them, and gave a lower mark to one of the students. I told the student that the examiner had been wrong and now you have confirmed this.
I really appreciate your help!