Deontic “must”, “have to” and “had to”

In English, to express strong obligation we can use either must or have (got) to. Grammars remind us that must is often used to express internal (personal) obligation, deduction (likelihood), and exhortation. The insulin shots for your pet must be given at twelve-hour intervals. (deontic) We must be late, there’s no one in the foyer. … Read more

He must regret his decision vs He must be regretting his decision

(1) He must regret his decision. (2) He must be regretting his decision. If you’re sure that "he" regrets his decision, can you say either (1) or (2)? In other words, can (2) be interpreted as not having a progressive meaning to it? Answer To answer your last question first, it will always be interpreted … Read more

English Conditionals and “would”

I’m having a discussion with my wife on English conditionals. She says we cannot have “would” in a hypothetical if statement: If I would want to change my address, should I let you know? She says that “would” can only occur in the second part (as in Type 2). If this is the case, is … Read more

Can “was not ᴠᴇʀʙing” and “will not ᴠᴇʀʙ” ever be exact equivalents in reported speech?

Do English speakers understand this sentence: I told him I wasn’t playing soccer anymore. Exactly as they would this sentence: I told him I will not play soccer anymore. If so, why would they consider those two to be exact equivalents? Answer This is reported speech, where we backshift tenses. Backshifting happens when a verb … Read more

“must”: obligation x certainty. Which meaning developed first in the English language?

ORIGIN OF MUST – Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to First Known Use: before 12th century Definition of must (verb) \məs(t), ˈməst\ used to say that something is required by … Read more

What does “Shall be” mean?

What does Shall be mean? I find it in different context, sometimes it seems to me that is means is or Will be and more likely Must be, but sometimes I can’t figure it out, so if it means Must be, what are the differences between them? Example: the process shall be stopped to investigate … Read more

Is “shall” an appropriate word for a scientific thesis?

May I use the word shall in my scientific thesis? As in The relevant ones shall be introduced in the following. Or is shall considered slang or outdated? Answer My credentials: I have read scores upon scores of scientific journal articles, graduate dissertations, and the like. I have several advanced degrees in science, and have … Read more

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable?

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and logical. If it is wrong, why is it wrong? Perhaps the context of the situation might help. I had a … Read more