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    #1

    ought to or must?

    -There is a lot of smoke coming out of the building there.
    -Really? It ____ be a fire, most probably.
    A. can B. ought to C. have to D. must

    Which is the right answer? Could you tell me?


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    #2

    Re: ought to or must?

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    -There is a lot of smoke coming out of the building there.
    -Really? It ____ be a fire, most probably.
    A. can B. ought to C. have to D. must

    Which is the right answer? Could you tell me?
    From your title, you seem to think that it has to be either 'ought to' or 'must'. Is that the case, Joham?

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    #3

    Re: ought to or must?

    I think neither is right. Should or ought to is used to refer to something pleasing; must is used without @ most probably@ in this case. I doubt if this exercise is a good one.

    Should we use may well (I think it unfit), will or simply we should not use a modal verb here, and just say @It is likely to be/ probably a fire?
    Last edited by joham; 13-Mar-2009 at 04:04.

  1. #4

    Re: ought to or must?

    Given the possible answers, 'must' is the most likely of them.

    However, might would be a more considered choice than those shown.

    Should someone who has made an assumption make the statement, then 'must' is the proper choice.

    Wholeman


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    #5

    Re: ought to or must?

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    I think neither is right.

    Should or ought to is used to refer to something pleasing;

    should and ought to are used for both deontic/social meanings; "You should/ought to see that movie" = "it's a good thing if you see that movie"

    AND

    epistemic/level of certainty meanings; "My mom should/ought to be be at work right now" = She's probably at work right now".

    But neither should nor ought to are used for pure speculation. The speaker has to have some prior knowledge of a situation. For pure speculation we use 'likely/probably', so in this case that seems to rule out should/ought to.


    must is used without @ most probably@ in this case. I doubt if this exercise is a good one.

    Should we use may well (I think it unfit), will or simply we should not use a modal verb here, and just say @It is likely/ probably a fire?
    [color=red]I agree that this isn't the best question. But there's nothing really wrong with a speaker stating one thing, "It must be a ..." and then qualifying that with a "most probably". We change our minds all the time, often in mid-sentence because something causes us to have greater doubt or less doubt.

  2. #6

    Re: ought to or must?

    Agreed, hence the qualifier, 'a more considered choice'.

    Dialog can be such a tricky thing when writing.

    To indicate that someone spoke in haste, or the speaker is uneducated, you often have to write 'outside the box'.

    (I was once thoroughly thrashed by a friend in England for 'removing too much of the flavor', when I translated one her short stories into 'American'. I wrote them as ill mannered schoolboys who'd never grown up. You can't correct their grammar and still have them appear so.)

    Once you know all the rules, then you have to learn when they don't apply.

    "Rot Guvna?"


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