but grammarians and linguists <must> differentiate between my and mine

AntiScam

Senior Member
Arabic
Hello,

I was chatting with somebody and mentioned the following
The books do not differentiate between the personal possessive pronouns, my and mine, but grammarians and linguists must differentiate between them.
I wanted to use must to indicate a likely situation. I do not know why I'm not positive about the sentence even though it looks grammatical?
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I wanted to use must to indicate a likely situation.
    "Must" here indicates that they are required to make such a differentiation (whether required by circumstances, or by necessity, or because someone is forcing them to do so at gunpoint, or whatever). It does not indicate likelihood.

    By the way, the comma you have after "pronouns" is incorrect and should be omitted.
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    "Must" here indicates that they are required to make such a differentiation (whether required by circumstances, or by necessity, or because someone is forcing them to do so at gunpoint, or whatever). It does not indicate likelihood.

    By the way, the comma you have after "pronouns" is incorrect and should be omitted.
    Yes, by necessity is what I meant to say. Thanks Glen for the comma tip. I guess I'll never forget that again!

    Merriam Webster uses the word likely, so I used it and forgot that the dictionary provides a context of examples.
    This part of the entry helps make my comment clearer:

    3 - used to say that something is very likely ▪It must be almost dinner time. ▪She must think I'm a fool. ▪It must have been the coffee that kept me awake. ▪He must have been the most gifted student at the school. [=I think he was the most gifted student] ▪He must have a lot of money to live the way he does. ▪The bus must be coming soon. ▪You haven't eaten all day. You must be hungry. ▪You're going to wear that? You must be joking! ▪You must have been very worried. ▪You must be thrilled about the new baby. ▪If he really was there, I must have seen him, but I don't remember seeing him. ▪There must be some mistake.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Merriam Webster uses the word likely, so I used it and forgot that the dictionary provides a context of examples.
    I guess there's a theoretical way in which "must" could have that sort of a meaning in your sentence, but in practice nobody would ever interpret it like that.
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I'll just add that "ought to differentiate..." implies very strongly that many if not most grammarians and linguists do not make that differentiation, but you think that they should.
    In that case, should might be the perfect word then, I guess.

    I've got two very good questions today/tonight and I'm satisfied with the answers.
    Thanks DT and Glen.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    At first glance it seems that you are saying that grammarians are under an obligation to distinguish pronouns.

    However, if you want to make must mean likely, you could stress it in the sentence. Your meaning would then be that you can't believe that they don't do this.
    Then you have a common use of must, which means a logical necessity.

    Compare phrases like I must be dreaming, You must be joking etc., where there is no requirement, but only a reasonable assumption.

    Another example: You have lost your glasses and have looked everywhere to find them. You remember putting them on after you came indoors, so you have a strong belief that you have not lost them outside. You could then say I remember bringing them inside, so they must be here somewhere.

    Since your sentence is liable to be misunderstood, it might be better to rephrase (unless you stress must), using, say, I can't believe grammarians don't.
     
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