Unit 28. must and can’t – grammar in use

A. Study this example:
We use must to say that we feel sure something is true:
* You’ve been travelling all day. You must be tired. (Travelling is tiring and you’ve been travelling all day, so you must be tired.)
* ‘Jim is a hard worker.’ ‘Jim? A hard worker? You must be joking. He’s very lazy.’
* Carol must get very bored in her job. She does the same thing every day.
We use can’t to say that we feel sure something is not possible:
* You’ve just had lunch. You can’t be hungry already. (People are not normally hungry just after eating a meal. You’ve just eaten, so you can’t be hungry.)
* Brian said he would definitely be here before 9.30. It’s 10 o’clock now and he’s never late. He can’t be coming.
* They haven’t lived here for very long. They can’t know many people.
Study the structure:
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t

be (tired/hungry/at work etc.)
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t be (doing/coming/joking etc.) do/go/know/have etc.
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t do/go/know/have etc.
B. For the past we use must have (done) and can’t have (done). Study this example:
George is outside his friends’ house.
He has rung the doorbell three times but nobody has answered.
They must have gone out. (otherwise they would have answered)
* The phone rang but I didn’t hear it. I must have been asleep.
* I’ve lost one of my gloves. I must have dropped it somewhere.
* Jane walked past me without speaking. She can’t have seen me.
* Tom walked straight into a wall. He can’t have been looking where he was going.
Study the structure:
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t have been (asleep/at work etc.)
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t have been (doing/working etc.)
I/you/he (etc.) must/can’t have done /gone/known/had etc.
Couldn’t have… is possible instead of can’t have…:
* She couldn’t have seen me.
* Tom couldn’t have been looking where he was going.



Unit 28. must and can’t – grammar in use