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She reasoned that she (must be) (must have been) (had to be) a victim of sex discrimination.

I think the first option is okay, but the tenses confuse me here: she reasoned in the past that she was a victim at the moment in the past when she reasoned. Another way would be to say: "She reasoned she was a victim." However, there is no uncertainty in this sentence, the sentence renders the meaning as "she was sure she was."

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    They are all correct, and have nearly the same meaning. The only difference is "must be" and "had to be" mean that at the moment of reasoning she was a victim. "must have been" means she was a victim first, then reasoned she was a victim later.
    – gotube
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:01

2 Answers 2

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Examples 1 & 3:

She reasoned that she must be / had to be a victim of sex discrimination.

The meaning is the same. She concludes that she is still a victim of sex discrimination:

Illustration: She applied for a promotion for which she was the best qualified candidate. But the job went to a man with less experience and few qualifications. She didn't get the job.

She reasoned that she must be/had to be a victim of sex discrimination. That's the only plausible explanation for her failure to get the job.

Example 2:

She reasoned that she must have been a victim of sex discrimination. Here she concludes that at some point in the past, she must have been a victim of sex discrimination.

Illustration: Because she didn't get the job she deserved, she resigned and joined another company where her talents were recognised and she was promoted.

When she reflected, she reasoned that she must have been a victim of sex discrimination in her former employment. Otherwise, she would have got the job.

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  • Linda reasoned that Jane must be a victim of sex discrimination.

Jane is currently a victim of sex discrimination.

  • Linda reasoned that Jane must have been a victim of sex discrimination.

Logic tells us with certainty that Jane was a victim of sex discrimination at some point in the past.

  • Linda reasoned that Jane had to be a victim of sex discrimination.

Logic tells us with strong certainty that Jane is currently a victim of sex discrimination.

Another possible meaning for "had to be" is related to planning. Linda is a dishonest politician planning to run for office.

  • Jane was working for the opposition candidate, a man, but was willing to help Linda win. But how could Linda explain her friend switching sides, and how could Jane help Linda win? Linda reasoned that Jane had to be a victim of sex discrimination.

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