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"must/might be + verb + ing"

Could "must/might be +verb +ing" be used in a future sense just like "He will be watching TV" as in future/tomorrow. If not then what present tense is it in? I’m confused to whether it is in present continuous as in ’You are watching TV’ or is it a present form of ’You must/might have been watching a TV’, or is it applicable for both?

As i know If I say "he must be a doctor"= He is a doctor now or he should be doctor in future.

And If I say "He might be a doctor"=Could either mean either "He is a doctor now" or "He will be a doctor in future.

"He must be tired"=He is tired now "He might be tired"=Could either mean he is tired now or will be in future.Kindly correct me If I am wrong.

3 Answers 3

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It should be mentioned that he must be [verb]ing can also mean that there is a strong probability that he is doing so. If you knock on a friend's door and he doesn't respond, even though you can hear voices and see a flickering light through the curtains, you might say He must be watching TV with the sound turned up. Telling him about it next day, you could say You must have been watching TV.

That man knew just what to do when the woman fell and injured herself. He must be a doctor. (He is probably a doctor.)

Not necessarily. He might be a paramedic. (There's also a possibility that he is a paramedic.)

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  • as you said "must be verbing" can also mean that there is strong obligation that he is doing something. Could you tell pls what else can "must be verbing" be as in any other sense,as you said earlier "can also mean"? Apr 14 at 1:15
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    I said probability, not obligation. I was responding to the other two answers, which concentrate on the meaning of must as obligation - interpreting He must be a doctor as he has to be a doctor. Apr 14 at 8:21
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must states that something is a requirement or obligation. On its own, it relates to now, or in general:

You must finish your dinner - now
You must not break the law - general

If you add a future time specifier, it relates to the future:

You must attend the lecture on Wednesday

If you use it with a perfect tense, it means that you are expressing a strong opinion about the past.

My husband must have forgotten about this meeting.


might states that there is a low probability of something. Again, it normally relates to now

Your wallet might be on your desk

Again, if you add a future time specifier or use a verb that implies the future, you care talking about a future possibility.

I might come on Wednesday
I might be a pilot one day
I might become a pilot

if you use it with a perfect tense verb, it indicates a weakly held opinion about something in the past.

You might have left your wallet at the restaurant

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  • @JavaLatteThanks Could you also tell me this part pls what present tense is "He might/must be watching TV"? I’m confused to whether it is in present continuous as in ’You are watching TV’ or is it a present form of ’You must/might have been watching a TV’, or is it applicable for both? Apr 12 at 23:41
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    Using a continuous tense is like using a perfect tense: it doens't change when something happens, it just makes it an opinion, rather than a statement of fact. "He must be watching TV" means you hold a strong opinion that he is watching TV right now.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 13 at 2:56
  • "You must be doing your homework when i get home".Could "must be with verb ing"be used as Obligation? Apr 13 at 3:24
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    "I must go" is a present obligation, even if you have to go at some time in the future. "I must be going" is stating an opinion that you must go: people say that then carry on talking for 15 minutes. Then they say "I really must be going" and talk for another ten minutes.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 13 at 13:49
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    "You must be doing your homework when i get home" is an obligation.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 13 at 13:49
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The answer depends on the context and the verb concerned.

They might/must be going could refer either to the present or the future.
They might/must be tiring can refer only to the present.

He must be a doctor means one of two things:
either that he has to be a doctor already
or, in a different context, that he needs to be a doctor.
My brother needs urgent medical attention and the medic must be a doctor.

He might be a doctor expresses the possibility that he is (or is not) a doctor at present.

If you are referring to a future possibility, then he might become a doctor.

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  • Thanks Could you also tell me this part pls what present tense is "He might/must be watching TV"? I’m confused to whether it is in present continuous as in ’You are watching TV’ or is it a present form of ’You must/might have been watching a TV’, or is it applicable for both? Apr 12 at 23:40
  • Could you also tell what does "He must be going" mean.Does it mean "He should be going" like as in obligation? If that the case then do you not think that "he must be+verbing only refers to present continuous instead of any obligation.As for obligation we say "He must go" Apr 13 at 6:00

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