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Skill Builders: Grammar ­ Modals of Speculation II

Upper-Intermediate

GRAMMAR EXPLANATION

What are modals of speculation? Modal auxiliary verbs express degrees of certainty. In other words, they describe a fact or situation that is definite, probable, possible, or impossible. However, despite the degree of certainty (or uncertainty), the speaker may be wrong. Here we'll focus on speculating about past events. For example: A: Kelly must have gone somewhere tropical for vacation, because she's sunburned. B: Actually, I she got some free tickets for a tanning salon. She didn't go anywhere last week. What is the sentence structure? The sentence structure is as follows: subject | modal verb | (negation) | have | past participle | object/complement Mary | must | (not) | have | done | well on the test. Jennifer | could | (not) | have | made | as much money as she claims. How are modals of speculation used? Commonly used modals for past events include the following:

definite - 100% must have may have may not have might have might not have could have impossible - 0% must not have could not have

Must have expresses a definite situation, and must not have /could not have an impossible one. When we use may have /may not have, we aren't as certain. And when expressing weak probability, use might have /might not have /could have. must have: + She must have gone somewhere tropical for vacation, because she's sunburned. - She must not (mustn't) have enjoyed trip skiing, because she broke her leg! + Alex may have spent some time in Paris because he often talks about the city. - Alex may not have enjoyed Paris, because he rarely talks about the city. might have: + The economy might have gotten worse without the tax cuts. - The tech bubble might not have happened if people had invested more carefully. Heads Up English www.headsupenglish.com

may have:

Skill Builders: Grammar ­ Modals of Speculation II

Upper-Intermediate could: + Kerry could have won the 2004 election if he had responded . - Gore could not (couldn't) have won the 2000 Presidential election.

Is there additional information on modals of speculation? Yes, there is. When speculating about past events, the sentence must use have + past participle, such as: have seen / have done / have gone. However, the phrase or sentence which provides the reason need not be restricted to the present perfect tense. Kelly must have gone somewhere tropical for vacation, because she's sunburned. = She's sunburned now, which has made people think she went on vacation.

ACTIVITY

(intend) Van _______________________ to go to the States for graduate school, but__________

_________________________________________________________________________ .

(offer) The company _______________________ you the job if __________________________

_________________________________________________________________________ .

(be) That movie _______________________ the biggest blockbuster in years if __________

_________________________________________________________________________ .

(care) People _______________________ much about the price of gas because ____________

Here is an activity to practice using modals of speculation correctly.

_________________________________________________________________________ .

(accept) Alan _______________________ the expat job in China because__________________

_________________________________________________________________________ .

(remain) The cost of oil _______________________ low. Unfortunately, ____________________

_________________________________________________________________________ .

Heads Up English www.headsupenglish.com

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Microsoft Word - speculationtwo1.doc