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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #116634: Making deductions about the past
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: Frequent mistakes | Modals [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Placement test beginners: Check your spelling - Past simple or present perfect - Although / in spite of / despite - Differences between Like and As - Again/ back - FOR and its use - Do or Make? - Do-don't-does-doesn't
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    Making deductions about the past

    Making deductions about the past



    To write sentences making deductions about the past we use the following form:

    Subject + Modal verb + have + past participle verb + object

    They             might       have            used                  the car without my permission.



    To make deductions about the past we need to use modal verbs (must, might/may and can´t)

    1.       We use must when we are sure about something that happened in the past.  Look at this example:

    - Robert must have been really happy with the 10 he got in English.

    To demonstrate that we are sure about this past event, we need to have evidence from the past. Look at this other example:

    - Something must have happened to Mike, he is not in his office.(This means that Mike is always on time for work – this is my evidence)


    2.       We use might, may or could to say that we think something in the past was possible but we aren't sure that it really happened. Here's an example:

    There was a bank robbery yesterday. The thieves might/may/could have got away on motorcycles. (This means that I am not sure of how the thieves got away)


    3.       We use can't when we are sure that something in the past was not possible. Look at this example:

    - Sheila can't have drunk any beer last night. She's an alcoholic in recovery.

    Like in the use of must, we use can't when we have some evidence for us to be sure about our deduction.



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    1. Dave gone to the beach. He hates being in the sun.

    2. I written down the number incorrectly. I've just called a hospital not the bar.

    3. John been very happy when he found out he was going to be a father. He's wanted that for a long time.

    4. I don't know where Camilla is. She stuck in traffic jam.

    5. Do you know where my wallet is? I think I left it in the supermarket this morning.

    6. Dude, where's my car? Somebody stolen it.

    7. I'm not sure, but I think the taxi drivers on strike yesterday because I didn't see any taxis on the street.

    8. You her. She was far from you when the light turned green.

    9. Let's ask in reception. Someone your keys there.

    10. Rafael my directions. Why else is he not here already?

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