You know what probably happened? Somebody must have stolen my credit card.

I have seen the above sentences from a textbook.

Question 1

According to a textbook, "You know what probably happened?" implies "I think something probably happened." Is this right?

Question 2

Also, in this case, nobody is 100% sure that somebody stole my credit card. Thus, I cannot say something like the following.

You know what would probably have happened? Somebody must have stolen my credit card.

"Would have <p.p.>" governs subjunctive usage about a past event, so this is improper. Am I right?


1/ Yes,

You know what probably happened? implies I think something probably happened


  • You know xyz?

basically means

  • I am about to tell you [more about] xyz.

(and xyz implies I think xyz from the speaker's viewpoint, as in roses are red implies I think roses are red)

(Note: the implication is not a strict logical implication, because the speaker could say You know what probably happened? Nothing.)

2/ You are correct in thinking you cannot say that. You are using the conditional perfect (would have happened), which is normally used to describe counterfactual situations. The following clause with must, however, is clearly not describing a counterfactual situation from the speaker's viewpoint, hence the grammatical clash.

  • Hello, @legatrix I have one further question. If I intent to express 'conjecture', Do I need to say something like; <You know what I think probably happened?> or <You know what would probably happen?> (maybe this "would" is for back-shifting?) Dec 30 '20 at 8:06
  • 1
    However, according to your feedback, just simply saying <You know what probably happened> can express 'conjecture' by itself, am I right? As an ESL learner, I believed <You know what I think probably happened> is better though. Dec 30 '20 at 8:08
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    I tihnk they both express a conjecture equally well. The difference is not semantic, it is mainly stylistic---the 'I think' just softens the conjecture a bit. It is already clear that the first sentence is a conjecture because of the 'probably'.
    – legatrix
    Dec 30 '20 at 9:33
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    Your other suggestion "You know what would probably happen?" is not correct in this context. For more details, I suggest asking a new question.
    – legatrix
    Dec 30 '20 at 9:33
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    HI again @legatrix I have posted my new question. ell.stackexchange.com/questions/270494/… Dec 30 '20 at 12:28

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