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Logical Assumptions with Modal Verbs in Academic Writing

queue in data structureMore often than not, logical assumptions are used in academic writing. This article is dedicated to the using of modal verbs for deduction, certainty and probability. When the question is about “deduction”, it means using all information that is available to draw certain conclusions on these or that facts.

Depending on what kind of information you have, you may be more assured that all of your conclusions are related to real life, or less assured that your conclusions are valid – and we make use of various modal verbs in order to define the degree of your certainty.

Deductions about the present

When you are going to make some deductions about the present, make sure to use “must” if you’re 100% sure that something is true and “can’t” in case you’re absolutely sure that something is impossible. For instance, if you see a guy, you may say “He must be a policeman” if you’re very certain about that because of his uniform. And “He can’t be a painter” since we’re certain he is NOT a painter.

Certainty about the days that have gone

When we take into account some present evidence and provide reasonably certain conclusions about the events that took place in the past, it is required to use “must have” and “couldn’t have” together with the verb in the past participle form. The “must have + past participle” example regarding the conclusions about something that did happen: “Ronda got a tan. She must have spent a lot of time on the beach”. As for the “must not have + past participle” construction (when we give the conclusions that something didn’t happen, the example will sound as:  “The mail box is still empty. James must not have sent the letter yet”.  And finally, the construction “couldn’t have + past participle” example: “George couldn’t have taken your purse; he wasn’t even in a room yesterday”.

Certainty about the days to come

When we are making deductions on the future, it’s the same as when we made predictions. Just like you have been told about the future tenses during the school lessons, one can use “going to” or “will” in order to say what we believe is going to happen in the future.  When an individual is 100% sure that his predictions are correct, he can add the word “definitely” in order to put emphasis on his certainty. For instance, “Mike’s definitely going to love this movie – it’s with his favourite Hollywood actor”.

Make sure to take into consideration the following slightly more formal expressions that one can make use of in order to talk about the future with certainty. This is what we use to state that something “is certain to” happen or when something “is sure to” happen. For example, “Sociology experts are certain to provide the results of the surveys even faster than before” or “The country is sure to take part in this global arrangement”.

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