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The sentence in question was on a grammar activity:

During a tour of the factory, health and safety inspectors declared that the company had to stop / must have stopped production until a series of tests was carried out.

I naturally chose "had to stop", yet I struggled to explain why. Instinctively, I feel that to use "must have stopped" would require changing the sentence to:

During a tour of the factory, health and safety inspectors declared that the company must have stopped production until a series of tests were carried out.

Are my instincts correct in this? If so, why is "must have stopped" paired with "were" while "had to stop" is paired with "was"?

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    You Present Perfect version (must have stopped production) implies that this was the only reason the inspectors could think of to explain why production had already been stopped (before their tour, preventing them from evaluating the procedures in a "live" context). In which case, strictly speaking that should probably be qualified by ...until a series of tests had been carried out. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 14 at 13:33
  • I agree with @FumbleFingers, but would also mention that a possible alternative would be "...declared that the company must stop production until a series of tests was carried out". Some people might argue for "were" against "was". Either would be alright in my view, but whether one used "had to" or "must" would have no bearing whatever on that decision. – WS2 Jan 14 at 13:46
  • Must have almost always uses the epistemic meaning of must (= I conclude that) not the deontic meaning (= obliged to). Other tenses can have either meaning. – Colin Fine May 14 at 14:10
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The correct way to use must is this, which is equivalent to saying had to stop:

During a tour of the factory, health and safety inspectors declared that the company must stop production until a series of tests were carried out.

Must have stopped would refer to a time further in the past when production actually or was believed to have actually stopped. In the sentence above, the company received a declaration saying they must do X, but we don't know if the company actually did it yet (if penalties are severe that could be strongly implied though)

For example:

The company must have stopped production until a series of tests were carried out, because of a declaration by health and safety inspectors. (we believe the company actually did stop production and are trying to figure out why)

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  • So would I be correct in thinking the second phrasing in my second example is not grammatically wrong, just unusual and not the way a native speaker would phrase it? Also that @WS2 in the comments is correct in that were/was are equally acceptable? – TripleD Jan 14 at 20:49

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