Here's a reading test that I did the other day:

Dear Mr. Prosser,
The information that you requested about changes to the hunting permit scheme has been enclosed. Please note that each permit must be filled out and applied for separately. When filling out your application, you must mark all answers clearly and with a black or blue pen. Please do not use cursive script, print only. Each application ______ enclosed in its own envelope and received before the applicable deadline. Received applications can take up to 5 weeks to process. Because of this, you must plan your submissions in a timely fashion to make sure that you receive your permit while the applicable season is still open. I hope that the information enclosed answers all of your questions. Take care and happy hunting.

I'm not sure why the answer says it should be "would be" in the blank, not "must be". In my opinion, must be is a more suitable answer since the whole mail is sort of telling the guy what to do in a relatively strong tone.

  • 2
    You are right, the missing text is "must be". must occurs three other times in the rest of the text: "would be" just would not make sense in this context.
    – JavaLatte
    Feb 27, 2021 at 13:48
  • 2
    should be would also fit. Feb 27, 2021 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


You are right - out of the options presented, must be is correct. Here are some reasons you can provide if needed:

  • The tone of the overall text is instructional and firm. There are no other instances of "loose" language like should, would, could, etc
  • Other instructions present in the text are similarly firm, using must and only to emphasize that the directions need to be followed as written.
  • Using would be negates the instructional tone of the sentence, instead it sounds like an event that happens with or without the reader's agency. It would no longer make sense with the context before and after this sentence.
  • What about using "shall" instead, would it make any sense?
    – carloc
    Feb 28, 2021 at 6:49
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    @carloc I suppose you could use "shall be", but it sounds a bit archaic. The intent of the sentence is most clear when using "must be".
    – mjjf
    Feb 28, 2021 at 16:42
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    Thank you much! I thought I remind something of the kind but it's been some 40 years since I was first tought English and suppose that archaic fits pretty well
    – carloc
    Feb 28, 2021 at 17:09
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    @carloc You're welcome, and certainly use the words you like! People still use "shall", sounds a bit posh/fancy/gentlemanly in an old-timey way if you know what I mean ;) Think "shall we dance?" or "I shall be on my way".
    – mjjf
    Feb 28, 2021 at 17:30
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    Got it ;) Just consider that that I was so brainwashed by my teacher that even now it takes some effort to hold a "I beg your pardon" when I don't get someone, even a friend.
    – carloc
    Mar 1, 2021 at 6:52

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