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modals of deduction

Modals of deduction

See also:
deductions / guesses

We can use certain modal auxiliary verbs to make deductions, i.e. to make guesses based on known facts. We can make deductions about the present : 'Where's Joanna?' 'She's not here. She must be in the kitchen.' We can also make deductions about the past : ...Read more


The following ESL resources are available for Modals of deduction:

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Deductions dominoes (present and past)
Dominoes game revising modals for degrees of certainty in the past and present.


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Deductions dominoes (present time)
Set of 12 matching dominoes for possibility in the present: must, may, might, could
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Expressing degrees of certainty - reference sheet
Cross table with simple rules for use of modals for certainty


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Future certainty
Matching an analysis of possible modals for expressing degrees of certainty in the future


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Making deductions - letter
Letter. Students read and make guesses about sender and recipient.


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Possibility - dominoes grammar game - extended version
Dominoes game revising modals for degrees of certainty in the past, present and future.


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Possibility in the past - speaking
Cut up strips. Ss read out problems. Others in group respond with a 'must have' 'could have' etc explanation


Modals of deduction quiz 1
Multiple-choice quiz.


Modals of deduction in the present
Fifteen-question MC quiz



General English course books (adults)

Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate book cover 

Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate

Vaughan Jones   Susan Kay   
Unit 14 Review 2  Page 132 
Unit 10 Genius  Pages 92 - 93
Modals of deduction in present and past: describing and nterpreting paintings.

Photocopiable resource books

Advanced Communication Games book cover 

Advanced Communication Games

Jill Hadfield   
22 Elementary, my dear Watson  Page 22 
Students read clue cards and make deductions to solve a murder
Grammar Activities 2 - Upper Intermediate book cover 

Grammar Activities 2 - Upper Intermediate

Will Forsyth   Sue Lavender   
39 - 40 Modal verbs - deduction present and past  Pages 39 - 40
(39) Gap fill. Deductions about pictures showing places (40) Gap fill. Deductions based on given information.
Intermediate Communication Games book cover 

Intermediate Communication Games

Jill Hadfield   
29 - Detective work  Page 29 
Card game. Small groups. Past perfect Past simple Language for making deductions. Murder-solving game with clue cards.
30 - Suggestive shapes  Page 30 
Picture ordering game. Deductions; Looks like. Students descibe and makes guesses about abstract shapes.
Play Games with English Book 2 (1981-8) book cover 

Play Games with English Book 2 (1981-8)

Colin Granger   John Plumb   
Close-ups 2 page 26  Page 26 
Close up pictures of everyday objects. Objects listed below.Ss must say,'It oould be a light bulb' etc. (Rather too easy to match the objects negating the need for deduction lanauge)
Detective page 42  Page 42 
A painting has been stolen from a gallery. Ss look at picture of the room and make deductions. 'He must have escaped through the window' etc.

General English adult course resource packs

Reward Intermediate Resource Pack book cover 

Reward Intermediate Resource Pack

Susan Kay   
18a and 18b He looks nice  Page 18 
Must, can't might and could for deductions about the present. Students match picures (line drawings) with jobs.
38 Speculation  Page 38 
Deductions about present and past. 8 picture cards. Ss make deductions : (smiling woman holding letter - 'She must have had some good news' etc.)
Reward Upper-intermediate Resource Pack book cover 

Reward Upper-intermediate Resource Pack

Susan Kay   
19b & c Unsolved mysteries  Page 19 
(19b) Students read out short texts about five unsolved mysteries and speculate about possible explanations. (19c) Read and match explanations with mysteries.


Comparison with as...as...

Comparison with <i>as</i>...</i>as...</as>: picture
Detailed grammar reference notes on comparison with as....
Three pages, illustrated. Includes positive and negative forms, modifiers and common similes.
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Download Comparison with as...as - grammar notes (PDF)

ESL lesson plans

Reading and vocabulary: workplace discrimination

Reading and vocabulary: workplace discrimination: picture
Work clothing vocabulary.
News story in graded English about woman who was sent home for refusing to wear high-heeled shoes.
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Download Dress code (PDF)

ESL lesson plans

Reading and vocabulary: How Donald Trump got rich: a tale of three Trumps

Reading and vocabulary: How Donald Trump got rich: a tale of three Trumps: picture
Three articles in graded English with lead-in and comprehension tasks.
Jigsaw reading for groups of three.
Grammar follow-up on participle clauses (PDF advanced version)
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Download Intermediate (PDF)
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Download Advanced (PDF)