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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.


Language level

Intermediate: B1


Thank you very much Jonathan! That's really helpful!

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

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,


The LearnEnglish Team

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you!

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!



The LearnEnglish Team

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.



The LearnEnglish Team