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Query Details

Query Subject:   Modals
Author:   Kenji Kashino
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Pragmatics
Subject Language(s):  English

Query:   Hi! I have some questions about English modals.
Which modal is more suitable in (1) and (2)?

(1) Bill isn't eating his food. He (doesn't have to / may not) be

(2) A: Someone is knocking on the door. It must be John.
B: It (doesn't have to / may not) be John. It could be George.

In the following example, does ''It doesn't have to be Dexter.'' have
the meanin g of (4a) or (4b)? The context of example (3) is as
follows: FBI is looking f or a senator who hatches a plot to
assassinate the U S President. They narrowed th e suspicious senators
down to five. This is what Mark said after someone told

Mark that it is Dexter.

(3) ''The other four senators may have more powerful motives we don't
happen to know about. It doesn't have to be Dexter,'' continued Mark,
sounding unconvinced.
(4) a. It is not certain that it is Dexter.
b. It is possible that it is not Dexter.

Please e-mail me directly.

With thanks in advance and best wishes,
Kenji Kashino (Kenny)
LL Issue: 9.30
Date posted: 11-Jan-1998


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