Murder Mystery Scene 1 - Language Focus

Rob and Stephen look at how ‘must’, ‘could’ and ‘perhaps’ can be used to speak about certainty and possibility.

Watch the video. Then go to the Tasks and do the activities.

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Language level

Intermediate: B1
Dear Team, I've been following your courses for a long time and recently I subscribed to ''MY COURSEWORK'' lessons. Could you suggest me please, a way to contact with this specific team or someone in charge of it? I've sent an e-mail asking about it, but I've got no answer. From what I've seen one of the tutors is Tom, the teacher in ''Word on the Street'' series. Is there any official way I could contact with him, for example? Ever thankful to all of you, nikos

Hello nikos,

Nice to hear from you again and I'm sorry to hear you didn't see an answer to your email. If you're talking about the email you sent on 15 September, we replied to you on the following day – maybe check your spam folder?

You can contact us here about your subscription, but if you're looking for general help with your course, the comments are still the best way.

By the way, we are planning to change the site so that subscribers have access to additional support, so keep your eye out for this in the coming months.

I'm also sorry for the delay in my response here. Please do let us know if there's anything else I can do to help.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Dear Learn English team! Why in the task 1 of the language focus is the sentence "the washing machine won't start. it's must be broken"?. Why future simple instead of present continuous form "the washing machine isn't starting..." because it's something is happening right now. Thank you in advance for you kind help Elena

Hi Elena,

Good question :) Actually, we often use won't with things that don't work as they should do. For example:

  • The door won't open.
  • The noise won't stop.
  • The phone won't switch on.

I think this is an extension of the use of will and won't to show a person's willingness or volition. We can say, for example: 

  • I've called him many times but he won't answer. 

Using won't shows that the person is unwilling to answer (not just that he cannot answer). If we use won't in the three sentences above, it gives a sense that those objects are uncooperative or stubborn (even though, of course, as objects they have no will or intentions of their own).

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! Could you explain, please, if there is any difference between "could be" and "might be"? I mean, we have two clauseses here - 'It could be tea' and 'The murderer might be close'. Would I be correct saying 'It might be tea' and 'The murderer could be close'? And the same question about "might have been' vs 'could have been': is there any difference between them or are they interchangeble?

Hello Yshc,

When making deductions about the present or past, might, may and could are interchangeable. I can't think of a context in which one is possible and another is not, or a context in which the meaning would be change.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, That was so disappointing because I came to a stop..I expexted this site to be more helpful with us and the sentence that I wrote was about the same topic "Certainty and Possibility"... Anyway, thanks for your effort.

Hello bakh.sh85,

We try to provide as much help as we are able but please remember that we are a small team here, providing a service entirely free of charge for hundreds of thousands of users. We simply are not able to answer every question that users may have and therefore we establish some ground rules so we are fair to all users. One of these rules, as I said, is that we do not provide answers or explanations to material from elsewhere. If we tried to do this, we would end up with no time to maintain the site or write new content, and would instead end up doing many of our users' homework for them!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Which option is the correct one in the following sentence? Many of the ancient remains show that there ______ life here for a long time. a. could have been b. must have c. might be d. couldn’t been In my opinion, A is correct since the sentence is in past tense, but C can be deceptive too because Might is the past of May...And the verb SHOW makes it somewhat complex so, is that verb showing the main tense as Present or the adverbial phrase " for a long time" as Past?

Hi bakh.sh85,

I'm afraid we don't provide explanations or answers for tasks from elsewhere. We're happy to explain the answers to our own questions and tasks, of course.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have two questions about task 2 please. - Why we use "have" instead of "has" while the subjetc is "the dog" or "he" or "she" ? - Why don't we use the coutinous form with the past while it is used with the present ? Thank you for your help

Hi fabien.bertho,

Modal verbs (such as 'might') can be followed by 'have' + past participle -- in these cases, 'have' does not change form. You can read more about this on our modals + have page.

Could you please give an example of what you mean in your second question? I'm afraid I don't understand exactly what you mean.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello, could you help me with this please "We could be looking for a tea drinker". Why do we use could be v-ing here. How about "we could look for a tea drinker" instead? Thank you.

Hello quoc hung,

Since Ashlie and Stephen are already investigating the crime when she says this, the continuous form is the best form here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I am so interested in English after watching the video. It's very helpful. Thanks a lot:).

Hello haq,

I've checked the page and video and both are working properly. If you still can't see it, I would suggest that you try using a different web browser or different device to view this page. That should solve the problem, I think, but if not, please let us know what browser and browser version you are using and we'll see what we can do to help you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team. Help me with these, please? - Maybe someone shot her. - The murderer might be close. Is it nature if we put 'might' at the beginning of the sentence? ("Might be someone shot her"). =================== - Just as I suspected, - Just as I was about to say, Do we always use 'just as' with the past form combination? Would you like to explain, please? Thank you very much.

Hello Nizam,

Yes, you can say 'Might be someone shot her', which is an informal and reduced way of saying 'It might be that someone shot her'.

As far as I know, there are no restrictions on the verb tenses that 'just as' can be used with. It is certainly very common, as you have already noticed, with the simple past in situations just as the one your example is from. But you could also use it when talking, for example, about a plan for a surprise birthday party, 'We'll all sing 'Happy Birthday' just as she turns on the lights after getting home'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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