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Must You? - Obligations

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “Must You?” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Obligations quiz”! If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

If an English speaker wants someone else to stop doing something (maybe thoughtless, and/or repeated) that is annoying them - like swinging their feet back and forth under a seat, and banging it every time - they may simply ask: 'Must you?' (i.e., 'Do you absolutely have to keep on doing that?').

There are a surprising number of 'shades' of obligation in English: we 'must' balance our finances and we 'must' 'keep calm and carry on', etc..

How strong are you at knowing the best way to phrase these obligations?

  1. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    'He ... ... got that idea from some nutty website he's been reading.'
    This expresses the idea that there can be no other way for him to have come across the material.
  2. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    (from an old children's rhyme:)
    'My mother said I never ... ...
    Play with the gypsies* in the wood.'
    (* 'Gypsies' = Roma, and/or Travellers, who were then seen as strange and mysterious, and hence not good company for mainstream children)
    ... i.e. the child who was singing the song was discouraged from spending time with the 'gypsies'. Like many such bans, it may well have had the opposite effect and raised the child's curiosity; and then there may or may not have been some interesting experience as a result.
    In bygone generations (perhaps up until about the mid-20th century and Second World War), in some homes it was believed that 'children should be seen and not heard' (i.e. they should smile sweetly, but otherwise keep their mouths shut unless an adult spoke to them first). You may feel that many of these 'shoulds' are now not as set or definite as people felt, back then.
  3. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    You ... ... always wash your hands when you finish visiting the bathroom, and before handling food.
    There is (so far as we know) no law about this (as 'must' suggests in Answer 1), but there is a strong medical and public-health obligation. Answers 3 and 4 carry a faint but definite suggestion that we know plenty of people who don't bother so much about hygiene habits, and who are potentially creating more risks for the rest of us.
  4. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    'Passengers requiring a vegetarian or special-diet meal during their journey, ... ... put in a request to boarding staff before departure.'
    The travel company cannot insist that anyone does this ~ although if the passenger does not do it and there is then a 'difficult scene' during the trip, they have nobody else to blame. 'Must' may, practically, be true; but the way that notices and announcements are voiced is usually very slightly less severe than this.
    (What about a vegetarian who has not yet decided whether they want refreshments at all, or who already knows they won't?)
  5. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    'Oh, dear! We were ... ... to send in this competition entry before the end of last month.'
    Answer 3 expresses the clearest reference to the competition rules.
    'Going to' (Answer 1) suggests that the people in this conversation meant to do it, but forgot or were disorganised, and it is now too late since the deadline has passed.
    Answer 2 shifts the perspective onto the company who were running the competition. But the 'expectation' was only general; how could the company have known whether these particular people were thinking of entering, or not?
    Answer 4: They were only 'obliged' if they were actually entering; the company couldn't force them to take part!
  6. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    The Driving Test examiners ... ... fail any candidate whose vehicle makes contact with the kerb*.
    ( *Kerb = the slightly-raised hard edge, where the road meets the pavement )
    Answer 4 is the most definite declaration of the procedure within which the examiners work.
    The Instructor who prepares you for the Test might use any of these other three ways of explaining this to you.
    Answer 1 slightly suggests that the Examiners are supposed to fail candidates who make this mistake ... but that perhaps, very occasionally, they might overlook it (please don't bank on this!).
    Answer 2 is a simple paraphrase of No.4; Answer 3 is a declaration of the straight fact that if you touch the kerb, you will fail.
  7. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    'There goes the town hall bell, chiming ten o'clock. I ... ... be on my way home by now.'
    Answer 1 is the classic 'Cinderella-type' curfew line. It is, by definition, a bit late for Answers 2 or 3 to be right; Answer 4 is rather more subjective ~ in that the speaker knows that he/she should be going, but is very reluctant (even to the point of rebellion, disobedience and bitter consequences later)!
  8. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    'Before the bad weather comes, we ... ... do something about tidying up the garden.'
    Nobody else is insisting (Answer 1), nor going to check up on you or report you to the police for failing to do this. (Not in Britain, in the 21st century ... unless, perhaps, you were an allotment holder!). 'Should' (Answer 2) may well be true but is still perhaps rather strong. 'Ought to' (Answer 3) suggests a measure of obligation, but also of reluctance ('I know we should, but I can't quite face it').
    'Might (Answer 4) is not appropriate here, and not strong enough.
  9. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    According to the experts, each of us ... ... to the dentist twice a year.
    'Should' is best here, if we want to maintain and protect our teeth. 'Should be going' (using the infinitive of the Continuous Present) nicely catches the element of regularity and repetition that is crucial to this good habit.
  10. Pick the answer that completes it best in good, clear, accurate idiomatic English.
    In Britain and many of her former colonies (and Commonwealth countries), traffic ... ... travel along the left-hand side of the road.
    'Must' indicates a 100% unavoidable fact; the other Answers suggest laws and customs that some people prefer ~ and/or manage ~ to avoid (like paying all the taxes that they should!). The Rule of the Road obviously cannot be left to personal preference; if you try driving on the wrong side, (a) you are committing an offence and (b) you are putting your own life, and those of other innocent road users, in danger.

Author: Ian Miles

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