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Focus on Grammar. Modal Verbs of Deduction

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Modal Verbs of Deduction

We use modal verbs of deduction to express degrees of certainty about the present and the past.

1. To express certainty we use must in the positive and can’t in the negative.

He must be at work now. Должно быть, он сейчас дома.

He can’t be at home now.


2. To express possibility we use can, could

They can be at work now. Вероятно, он сейчас на работе.

6. To express probability we use may, might

He may not be there yet. Boзможно, его еще там нет.

4. Modal verbs of deduction are often used to hypothesize

There may be a fifth force in nature that causes objects to fall at different rates.


Exercise 1. Rewrite these sentences using a modal verb of deduction

Example: 1. I am sure he is in Moscow now. - He must be in Moscow now.

2. I think he has finished this work. - He can have finished this work.

3. Perhaps she will help us. - She may help us.


1. I am sure he has been at the conference. 2. Perhaps Steve has got this grant. 3. He probably wanted her to marry him. 4. Perhaps she has been to London already. 5. I am sure James is a famous scholar. 6. He probably didn’t want her to meet them. 7. I am sure she didn’t work hard at school. 8. They have probably tried to get the tickets for this play. 9. I am sure they are in a hurry. 10. I think Brian has no money to buy a new car. 11. Probably Tom is coming to see us tomorrow. 12. I am not definitely sure what I am doing this weekend. 13. It’s possible that I am going to Italy in July. 14. The director is away so perhaps there won’t be a meeting on Friday. 15. I am sure he has got everything he needed. 16. If he walks from the station, perhaps he will come in time. 17. There is probably some misunderstanding. 18. My students are certainly at the conference now. 19. There is no doubt he is coming to her birthday party. 20. Is it possible that this old man is his brother?


Exercise 2. What can you deduce from the following situations?

Example: Look, John is standing under the clock!

He may be waiting for somebody.

He must have an appointment.


1. John has lost a lot of weight recently. 2. It’s the beginning of your lesson and your teacher isn’t here. 3. The children are making a lot of noise in the court-yard. 4. He has got an enormous sum of money. 5. Paul looks so unhappy. 6. Liz is wearing a beautiful dress. 7. There is nobody in the room. Where is everybody? 8. Ann doesn’t want to see Bill. 9. He has got a chess board with him. 10. He is working so hard now.


Exercise 3. Use the necessary modal verb of deduction.


1. He seldom goes out he... be working hard. 2. Nobody answers the phone, they... have gone somewhere. 3. You... have asked me for this book, I have it at home. 4. His face seems familiar to me, we... have met before. 5. He began this work only yesterday, he... not have finished it. 6. Why don’t you tell him about it, he... help you. 7. She doesn’t want to see him any longer. They... have quarrelled. 8. There is a bell. Ann... be coming from the party. 9. She … not be working there. She is not a good PC user. 10. He is such a good student. He … not have done the work so carelessly. 11. They … be unable to get in touch with you. 12. He … be late. He is so punctual. 13. He … have learnt the news, he looks as if nothing has happened. 14. They … not have refused to take part in the discussion, they have been working on this problem for a month.


Exercise 4. Translate into Russian, paying attention to the modals of deduction.


1. He is so late. He must have taken a wrong bus. 2. Why hasn’t he come to our meeting? He couldn’t forget about it. He may have fallen ill. 3. Everything must have been arranged beforehand. 4. It may have been taken for a joke. 5. They can’t fail to recognize you, you haven’t changed much. 6. Look! People are hurrying along the streets with umbrellas up. It must be raining hard. 7. They must have been writing the test for an hour, they are looking so tired. 8. Don’t be angry with her. She may have done it by mistake. 9. They couldn’t have said anything of the kind. 10. If nothing prevents them, they can arrive tomorrow morning.



Text 2


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