I know how to make sentences in the past but I don't know how to make them in the present and future tenses.

He looks happy, He must have heard a good news.

I think the previous sentence is correct. How can I convert it into present tense?

He looks happy, He must hear a good news.

Is the previous sentence correct? Does it sound native?

Can I use must also to express future? or should I use another verb like "Would"?

Thank you very much,

  • 8
    It should be "heard good news", not "heard a good news". Present tense: "He looks happy, he must be hearing good news" would mean he is literally listening to somebody tell him good news at this moment - but that sounds unnatural. "...must be getting good news" sounds better to me, but still I wouldn't expect a comment about someone getting good news while they are in the middle of hearing it. Anyway, future: "He must be expecting good news."
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 12:21
  • @nnnnnn I think that the man from burial services must be happy during hearing good news... en.bugemos.com/?q=node/4 . Note that "Schwab" is transscripted as "Šváb" which is "Cockroach" in english. And the donkey was genetically modified.
    – Crowley
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


must be/must have is used to show that we are sure that something is true and we have reasons for our belief.

He looks happy, he must be hearing good news

Note that be requires an adjective or noun to follow it, not a verb, so we use a kind of adjective called an active participle hearing. Together with be, this forms a present continuous.

He looks happy, he must have heard good news

Have must be followed by a past participle or by been and a present participle. In this case, the past participle is added, and have heard makes present perfect simple.

In these examples, we state that the reason for our belief is that he looks happy now, but we would need additional information to decide which example is appropriate. The first would be appropriate is he didn't look happy a minute ago but now somebody is talking to him. The second would be appropriate if nobody is talking to him right now but, for example, he has just come out of the boss's office after his salary review.

We cannot directly build a future for this example, as he does not yet know that he will receive good news and so he probably does not look happy, and so we cannot base our belief on the way he looks.

Here is a different example where we can infer a future event from current information:

The blackbirds are singing: it must be going to rain.


The present tense form of this:

He looks happy, He must have heard good news.

is this:

He looks happy, he must be hearing good news.

You do not want to use simple present (even with must) unless you are narrating or logging someone's actions (like a sportscaster). Even then, with must it sounds like you are stating a requirement, not an event, if simple present is used: The worker must ensure all protective gear is equipped.

Must X basically means that "X has to happen." So it can imply you are predicting the future already and therefore "takes the place" of will. You can't use must and will together.

I will walk to the park today.

I must walk to the park today.

Bobby must be at the park.

Bobby will be at the park.

You can do this, though:

He will look happy, as he will have heard good news.


He will look happy when he hears the good news.

  • "You do not want to use simple present (even with must) unless you are narrating or logging someone's actions." Would this fall into "narrating" for you: "My dog always gets really excited a minute or two before my wife gets home. He must hear the car coming before I do."
    – Adam
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 14:55
  • Interesting example. To me, you are narrating an event, but it is imagined.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:23
  • How about a stative use of simple present: "He looks happy: he must know something we don't"?
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 0:04
  • That's fine. I should have accounted for stative verbs in this answer (see learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/…) - those are commonly used in simple present (technically you are "narrating" or reporting on a state).
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 14:49

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