must/should have

zuotengdauo

Senior Member
Chinese-China
<-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)-----> After I came out of the restroom, I went to the bus parked in front of the station only to find that it was not my bus! <...> It turned out that the bus had left without waiting for me. With barely controlled anger, I asked, "How could they leave without me? They ________ have counted head before they left. <...>

This passage comes from a test paper.
The task is to choose from "must" and "should" to fill in the blank. My question is : do both words fit in the sentence? I think they do. But the key is "should". I think "must have counted" also makes sense because the author can be certain that the tour guide has counted heads. But the guide has made a mistake when he counts the number by missing the author accidentally. Is my understanding right?

Thank you.
 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Should" is correct - the prospective passenger is accusing the bus driver (and others?) of being negligent. This "should" is deontic.

    "Must" to draw a logical conclusion would be out of place here: obviously nobody did count heads. This "must" is epistemic, and not appropriate for the situation.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    They must have counted heads - it's evident that they counted heads.

    But what is evident is that they did not count heads, or they would never have left without him; this is the obvious inference to draw.

    They should have counted heads - they ought to have counted heads. Had they counted heads, they would not have left without him.

    So I agree with the answer key and Mrs V.

    I don't think the speaker can conclude from the evidence that they counted heads. So, for me, only 'should' works here,
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    "Should" is correct - the prospective passenger is accusing the bus driver (and others?) of being negligent. This "should" is deontic.

    "Must" to draw a logical conclusion would be out of place here: obviously nobody did count heads. This "must" is epistemic, and not appropriate for the situation.
    Thank you for your explanation. But can I understand it this way?
    If the author is convinced that the driver or the tour guide didn't count heads, then he says "should have counted", which implies they failed to count heads

    If the author is convinced that the driver or the guide did count heads but something was wrong with the process of counting, so they missed the author accidentally, in which case the author says "must have counted".

    Am I right?
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    They must have counted heads - it's evident that they counted heads.

    But what is evident is that they did not count heads, or they would never have left without him; this is the obvious inference to draw.

    They should have counted heads - they ought to have counted heads. Had they counted heads, they would not have left without him.

    So I agree with the answer key and Mrs V.

    I don't think the speaker can conclude from the evidence that they counted heads. So, for me, only 'should' works here,
    Thank you very much. But please have a look at my understanding in the following post.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I think both are possible. "They must have" doesn't necessarily imply that it is evident that they did - it can simply be a supposition that they did because that's what they're supposed to do before the bus leaves.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    If the author is convinced that the driver or the guide did count heads but something was wrong with the process of counting, so they missed the author accidentally, in which case the author says "must have counted".
    No: I think that logic would only work if the sentence said "they must have counted heads wrongly".
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    No: I think that logic would only work if the sentence said "they must have counted heads wrongly".
    I think the tone of voice can imply that some mistake was made. I could say:

    They must have counted the heads, (surely)!

    But if I emphasize the 'must' without using 'surely', it would mean the same thing to me:

    They must have counted the heads!!!
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think the tone of voice can imply that some mistake was made. I could say:

    They must have counted the heads, (surely)!

    But if I emphasize the 'must' without using 'surely', it would mean the same thing to me:

    They must have counted the heads!
    Thinking about this some more, you're right. :)

    I can imagine the poor guy saying in total disbelief: [Surely] They must have counted heads! He simply can't understand how they could be stupid enough not to have done.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    They must have counted heads - it's evident that they counted heads.

    But what is evident is that they did not count heads, or they would never have left without him; this is the obvious inference to draw.
    [...]
    I don't think the speaker can conclude from the evidence that they counted heads. So, for me, only 'should' works here,
    I agree. There was no attempt to convey the meaning and tone of voice that You little ripper mentions. That could have been done by putting "must" in italics, or by adding the word "surely".


    "I left my luggage on the bus" - is put forward as a reason for saying that "they should have counted heads". They saw my luggage there, so they ought to have counted heads.
    Edit: defective logic.
     
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    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    There was no attempt to convey the meaning and tone of voice that You little ripper mentions. That could have been done by putting "must" in italics, or by adding the word "surely".
    That doesn't mean that it wasn't there when it was said, velisarius. I actually think that 'must' is more logical in this context because it's a given that bus drivers count head before leaving. It's all very well that the correct answer is 'should', but zuotengdauo wanted to know if 'must' is possible, and I most certainly think it is.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]If the author is convinced that the driver or the guide did count heads but something was wrong with the process of counting, so they missed the author accidentally, in which case the author says "must have counted".

    Am I right?
    I find it hard to say, I'm afraid, Zuotengdauo. I didn't understand the point you were making.

    Some people seem to be arguing that "they must have" can, with the right intonation, mean "they should have".

    I don't think I've ever heard language used that way, which is not to say that it isn't, in the outposts of the Empire.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I find it hard to say, I'm afraid, Zuotengdauo. I didn't understand the point you were making.

    Some people seem to be arguing that "they must have" can, with the right intonation, mean "they should have".

    I don't think I've ever heard language used that way, which is not to say that it isn't, in the outposts of the Empire.
    OK. I get you. I am sorry my English is not good enough to get my idea across to you or use "must/should have" correctly. But according to you little ripper, the right intonation of "must have counted" can suggest the driver made a mistake in counting heads, which is closer to what I was trying to say.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Anyway, tests ask for the best answer, not for any possible answer that, in some unusual context and said with a special, just-right intonation, could produce an acceptable sentence.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I agree. There was no attempt to convey the meaning and tone of voice that You little ripper mentions. That could have been done by putting "must" in italics, or by adding the word "surely".


    "I left my luggage on the bus" - is put forward as a reason for saying that "they should have counted heads". They saw my luggage there, so they ought to have counted heads.
    I am afraid I have a different way of thinking than you. "I left my luggage on the bus" could imply nothing but "the author has got the supposition that they did count heads", namely, "they must have counted heads". "they must have seen the author's luggage", so they couldn't have forgotten to count heads.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    Anyway, tests ask for the best answer, not for any possible answer that, in some unusual context and said with a special, just-right intonation, could produce an acceptable sentence.
    Yes, you are right. But I no longer treat it as a test paper question but bring it up to discuss various possibilities to fill in the blank. It's because I am not preparing for this test.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm the one who usually argues for several answers' being possibly appropriate. Here I can't see that there's much room for doubt.
    I am afraid I have a different way of thinking than you. "I left my luggage on the bus" could imply nothing but "the author has got the supposition that they did count heads", namely, "they must have counted heads". "they must have seen the author's luggage", so they couldn't have forgotten to count heads.
    I don't see the implied logic here. What is the logical relationship in your mind between their seeing the speaker's luggage and their having definitely counted heads? Why should they count heads because his luggage was on the bus?

    The luggage is mentioned because the fact that the bus left with his luggage but without him is doubly inconvenient for him.

    I'd take him to be saying that there was an obligation for them to count heads because they should not leave people behind. The fact that he has been left behind is sufficient justification of his statement that they should have counted heads. Implied logic:

    You should not leave people behind.
    If you don't count heads, you might easily leave someone behind.
    Therefore you should count heads.


    After all, the luggage is mentioned after the statement that they should have counted heads; I don't see how that the luggage can come into the logic at all. I know that the conclusion of a syllogism can precede a statement of the premises, but this seems to be taking that idea rather far.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I find "must" extremely unlikely here. It implies that "counting heads" doesn't imply that they are usually counted properly. Like, making a mistake in counting heads is as common as counting it properly.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I'm the one who usually argues for several answers' being possibly appropriate. Here I can't see that there's much room for doubt.

    I don't see the implied logic here. What is the logical relationship in your mind between their seeing the speaker's luggage and their having definitely counted heads? Why should they count heads because his luggage was on the bus?

    The luggage is mentioned because the fact that the bus left with his luggage but without him is doubly inconvenient for him.

    I'd take him to be saying that there was an obligation for them to count heads because they should not leave people behind. The fact that he has been left behind is sufficient justification of his statement that they should have counted heads. Implied logic:

    You should not leave people behind.
    If you don't count heads, you might easily leave someone behind.
    Therefore you should count heads.


    After all, the luggage is mentioned after the statement that they should have counted heads; I don't see how that the luggage can come into the logic at all. I know that the conclusion of a syllogism can precede a statement of the premises, but this seems to be taking that idea rather far.
    Thank you for your detailed explanation. I formed this logic just in response to velisarious' reply. Now I think "they saw my luggage" can't be involved in the logic because if they had seen the author's luggage, they wouldn't have left him behind. But I just can't help but think "must have counted" is possible, just as you little ripper said. The author thinks to count heads is a given but the guide may have made a mistake in counting, so they missed him.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I find "must" extremely unlikely here. It implies that "counting heads" doesn't imply that they are usually counted properly. Like, making a mistake in counting heads is as common as counting it properly.
    Either maybe my English is not good enough to understand the usage of "should/must have done" properly, or I just have weird way of thinking.:(
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I'm the one who usually argues for several answers' being possibly appropriate. Here I can't see that there's much room for doubt.

    I don't see the implied logic here. What is the logical relationship in your mind between their seeing the speaker's luggage and their having definitely counted heads? Why should they count heads because his luggage was on the bus?

    The luggage is mentioned because the fact that the bus left with his luggage but without him is doubly inconvenient for him.

    I'd take him to be saying that there was an obligation for them to count heads because they should not leave people behind. The fact that he has been left behind is sufficient justification of his statement that they should have counted heads. Implied logic:

    You should not leave people behind.
    If you don't count heads, you might easily leave someone behind.
    Therefore you should count heads.


    After all, the luggage is mentioned after the statement that they should have counted heads; I don't see how that the luggage can come into the logic at all. I know that the conclusion of a syllogism can precede a statement of the premises, but this seems to be taking that idea rather far.
    I don't know if this logic is reasonable:
    1. Counting heads is a given and is supposed to be done.
    2. But even if you do so, a mistake in counting might result in leaving someone behind. The fact is, I was left behind.
    3. So they must have counted heads (wrongly)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello Zuotengdauo,

    You seem to think that if you check that everyone is there before you set out, you are more likely to leave someone behind.

    If you really think this, I'm not surprised you got the answer wrong.

    Have you ever taken students on a trip? By your way of thinking, you should be careful to avoid checking that everyone is present before setting out, because it's such a sure way of leaving someone behind.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    Hello Zuotengdauo,

    You seem to think that if you check that everyone is there before you set out, you are more likely to leave someone behind.

    If you really think this, I'm not surprised you got the answer wrong.

    Have you ever taken students on a trip? By your way of thinking, you should be careful to avoid checking that everyone is present before setting out, because it's such a sure way of leaving someone behind.
    Oh, that's such a weird way of thinking that I didn't think that way.
    Can "must have counted" imply that the author take it as a given that they have counted heads but he thinks the guide or driver is a sloppy guy, who often does things sloppily and makes mistakes in doing almost everything?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Can "must have counted" imply that the author take it as a given that they have counted heads but he thinks the guide or driver is a sloppy guy, who often does things sloppily and makes mistakes in doing almost everything?
    Not in that sentence as it stands. :(

    To put that interpretation on it, I think the sentence would have to say something like must have counted heads wrongly [as usual].
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    But "must have counted" doesn't have that implication even if it is said with right intonation?
    This goes back to what I said in post #9. I think that works: the inference could well be that it's such an obvious precaution to take, that the only logical conclusion is that the idiot of a driver did it and got the wrong answer.

    But the problem with it is that, as you say, it requires an intonation in speech which would probably be shown in writing as italics, bold text or possibly the addition of something like "surely" - and unfortunately none of those are present in the sentence you're given on the test paper. :(
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    There was no attempt to convey the meaning and tone of voice that You little ripper mentions.
    With barely controlled anger, I asked, "How could they leave without me? They ________ have counted head before they left.
    The sentence says: With barely controlled anger ...........

    According to The Free Dictionary:

    must
    b. Used to indicate logical probability or presumptive certainty: If the lights were on, they must have been at home.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    the inference could well be that it's such an obvious precaution to take, that the only logical conclusion is that the idiot of a driver did it and got the wrong answer.
    I think you mean implication, again. Implying is transmitting, inferring is receiving.
    must
    b. Used to indicate logical probability or presumptive certainty: If the lights were on, they must have been at home.
    So you are suggesting that this person is saying that it's certain that they counted heads, because how else could they have left someone behind.

    That would be a very ironic thing to say.

    I don't think Zuotengdauo is going to have much idea of the difference between must have and should have at the end of this thread.

    It's such an easy question. I'm sorry to see it made to seem so difficult.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm saying that this person is presuming that they must have counted heads and because of this is astounded that he was left behind.
    So you can see that if they count heads, they are less likely to leave anyone behind.

    Zuotengdauo was unclear about this point some time back.

    This led our man in the OP to conclude that the fact that he'd been left behind means they didn't count heads.

    That leads him to comment that they should have (ought to have) counted heads, because had they done so, he would not have been left behind.

    Don't forget that non-native speakers understandably have great difficulty with these modal expressions in English.

    We need to keep things as simple and clear as we can to get the point over.

    I think ironic uses of the expression can be left for later lessons.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've read the whole thread. I don't understand the argument that "must" is a valid answer to the question as asked. That the passenger might have been steaming with anger is beside the point. The wholly natural statement is "they should have counted". If the question was "Is it possible that some English speakers, somewhere in the world, might use "must" in this sentence." the answer would be "Yes". But that wasn't the question. It was
    The task is to choose from "must" and "should" to fill in the blank. My question is : do both words fit in the sentence?
    To which my reply is "For most English speakers who don't add unusual stress and exasperation to the sentence, no".
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    So you can see that if they count heads, they are less likely to leave anyone behind.

    Zuotengdauo was unclear about this point some time back.

    This led our man in the OP to conclude that the fact that he'd been left behind means they didn't count heads.

    That leads him to comment that they should have (ought to have) counted heads, because had they done so, he would not have been left behind.

    Don't forget that non-native speakers understandably have great difficulty with these modal expressions in English.

    We need to keep things as simple and clear as we can to get the point over.

    I think ironic uses of the expression can be left for later lessons.
    I have understood this point long before I start this thread, Mr Tompion. And I have understood the difference between "must have" and "should have". But after reading your replies, I have known "must have counted" can also intend an ironical meaning that the man in OP is accusing the driver/the guide of being sloppy in counting. And I didn't know "must have counted" can have this implication with right intonation back then. I think I have learnt a new usage from you. Thank you again.:)
    Although it makes more sense to say "should have" in this sentence.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    If the question was "Is it possible that some English speakers, somewhere in the world, might use "must" in this sentence." the answer would be "Yes". But that wasn't the question. It was
    To which my reply is "For most English speakers who don't add unusual stress and exasperation to the sentence, no".
    Andy, zuotengdauo said he wasn't interested in the answering the test question:

    But I no longer treat it as a test paper question but bring it up to discuss various possibilities to fill in the blank.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Andy, zuotengdauo. said he wasn't interested in the answering the test question:
    Yes
    I've read the whole thread.
    I was answering the question that was asked in the thread, not the test question.
    My question is : do both words fit in the sentence?
    My answer was "No". That is, unless we take a pretty artificial set of circumstances - a minority of English speakers who would create an unusual context for the statement, and who wouldn't mind being stuck at a bus station.miles from home.

    If I was the angry traveller, using the word "must" wouldn't cross my mind. It's blindingly obvious to me, cold and miserable with no luggage, that they didn't count heads, and they should have. I don't do irony when I'm angry.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I'm confused. You said:

    If the question was "Is it possible that some English speakers, somewhere in the world, might use "must" in this sentence." the answer would be "Yes".
    I understand that to mean that 'Yes' is a possibility.

    Zuotengdauo said:
    But I no longer treat it as a test paper question but bring it up to discuss various possibilities to fill in the blank.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have understood this point long before I start this thread, Mr Tompion.
    Great. I didn't think it was clear from what you wrote.
    I have known "must have counted" can also intend an ironical meaning that the man in OP is accusing the driver/the guide of being sloppy in counting. And I didn't know "must have counted" can have this implication with right intonation back then.
    Almost any sentence can have an ironic meaning. "Please come in" can mean "Go away at once", with what you call the "right intonation".

    Inevitably we give the literal meaning, which, in this case, was entirely clear from the start, though it has become less so as the thread has progressed. Let's hope that Andy can bash some sense into it.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Please don't be confused. My point was:

    Normal English as I know it: "should"
    Minority English in contexts which I consider to be wholly artificial and highly improbable, but it seems some people don't: "must" might be possible

    Which makes my answer to the question asked "No". As far as I'm concerned, "must" doesn't fit.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    Please don't be confused. My point was:

    Normal English as I know it: "should"
    Minority English in contexts which I consider to be wholly artificial and highly improbable, but it seems some people don't: "must" might be possible

    Which makes my answer to the question asked "No". As far as I'm concerned, "must" doesn't fit.
    Hey, Andy. I think these sentences would fit(Now it has nothing to do with completing the test paper question task)
    1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)!
    2. Haven't they counted heads before they set out?!
    3. They must be idiots to have counted heads wrongly!
    These are what crossed my mind when I see the blank filling question.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Please don't be confused. My point was:

    Normal English as I know it: "should"
    Minority English in contexts which I consider to be wholly artificial and highly improbable, but it seems some people don't: "must" might be possible

    Which makes my answer to the question asked "No". As far as I'm concerned, "must" doesn't fit.
    Strangely, I would automatically opt for 'must', not 'should' in a similar situation. I think it may be from having taken numerous bus trips over the years and being counted every time the bus left a destination point. I would naturally assume a count had been done. What would be going through my mind is, "How can they have counted the number of passengers and not have known there was one person missing? Don't they know how to count?!!!". I suppose we're all different. :)
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think you mean implication, again. Implying is transmitting, inferring is receiving.
    Yes, TT, I do know what the difference is. I meant that it was the inference which I or anyone else would draw. I do apologize for having confused you. ;)
    Don't forget that non-native speakers understandably have great difficulty with these modal expressions in English.

    We need to keep things as simple and clear as we can to get the point over.

    I think ironic uses of the expression can be left for later lessons.
    Well I was assuming from the series of questions which the OP asked towards the end of this thread that he was interested in pursuing some of the more advanced points of modal verb use here. Considering the number of times recently that you've lambasted me in the forum for attempts to "keep things simple" when answering questions on multiple choice question answers, I find that comment ironic in the extreme.
    And I have understood the difference between "must have" and "should have". But after reading your replies, I have known "must have counted" can also intend an ironical meaning that the man in OP is accusing the driver/the guide of being sloppy in counting. And I didn't know "must have counted" can have this implication with right intonation back then. I think I have learnt a new usage from you. Thank you again.:)
    Although it makes more sense to say "should have" in this sentence.
    That seems to me to indicate that he understands fully the explanations he's been given, and that he is appreciative of our efforts in going further into the more subtle complexities of usage than we would perhaps normally do. :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hey, Andy. I think these sentences would fit(Now it has nothing to do with completing the test paper question task)
    1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)!
    2. Haven't they counted heads before they set out?!
    3. They must be idiots to have counted heads wrongly!
    These are what crossed my mind when I see the blank filling question.
    I think this may be possible in Australian English, but I wouldn't think it easily so in British English.

    They must have counted heads would mean not 1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)!:cross::thumbsdown: but How can they have failed to count heads? It's impossible that they could have been so negligent.

    I can't see where this idea that they counted heads wrongly comes from.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    I think this may be possible in Australian English, but I wouldn't think it easily so in British English.

    They must have counted heads would mean not 1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)!:cross::thumbsdown: but How can they have failed to count heads? It's impossible that they could have been so negligent.

    I can't see where this idea that they counted heads wrongly comes from.
    Thank you for your clarification, Mr Tompion. I didn't say "They must have counted heads" means "1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)"
    But I mean that the man in OP could have said one of those three sentences to show his anger in that circumstance, right?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you for your clarification, Mr Tompion. I didn't say "They must have counted heads" means "1. They must have counted heads wrongly (as usual)"
    But I mean that the man in OP could have said one of those three sentences to show his anger in that circumstance, right?
    Wrong, except that one can say almost anything to 'show one's anger'.
    [...]I have known "must have counted" can also intend an ironical meaning that the man in OP is accusing the driver/the guide of being sloppy in counting.
    It's when you say things like this that I worry that this thread has seriously misled you.

    The ironical meaning would be that the driver/guide had failed to count at all.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    These work for me:
    "They must have counted heads wrongly" (no implication of this being usual) Adding "wrongly" takes the sentence away from the context of the original discussion.
    "They must have counted heads wrongly as usual!"
    "They must have counted heads wrongly again!"
    In all of those there is a clear belief that they did count. Discussing this in a thread based on the original question is discussing oranges in a thread about apples.
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    Wrong, except that one can say almost anything to 'show one's anger'.

    It's when you say things like this that I worry that this thread has seriously misled you.

    The ironical meaning would be that the driver/guide had failed to count at all.
    Oh, thank you for your correction. I didn't know I misunderstood it.
    But according to Andy, "They must have counted heads wrongly" does work if it doesn't mean to show anger, right?
     

    zuotengdauo

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    Wrong, except that one can say almost anything to 'show one's anger'.

    It's when you say things like this that I worry that this thread has seriously misled you.

    The ironical meaning would be that the driver/guide had failed to count at all.
    I didn't know the content of the irony is as such. But according to Donny and you little ripper, with the right intonation, "They must have counted heads" can imply "They are so sloppy that they make a mistake I counting". Do you suggest they are wrong?
     
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