A cabbie’s life was not that easy back in the 1930s as it is not today, but for Tommy Angelo, he was a straight guy, and he didn’t want to get himself into trouble with gangsters’ life, but on a fateful night on one of his late shifts, everything was going to change and his life was never to be simple anymore. Welcome to the first episode of English Plus Mafia 1 series | An Offer You Can’t Refuse. We will meet Tommy Angelo in this series, and we will learn a lot of English along the way, and there’s a lot of practice on the website, so you can go there after you watch the video and take your English to the next level.
“Case Must be getting cold by now”
Let me just remind you quickly with this expression in the context of our episode.
The detective was taunting Tommy in a way to make him spill the beans and tell him what he knows about the mob. Tommy was in a bad situation being chased by other mob members, so he had no other choice but to cooperate. He started with the Morello case and said…
Tommy: And they handed you the Morello case, right outta the gate?
Norman: That’s what the paper says, ain’t it? And what’s it to you?
Tommy: Tough break. Case must be getting pretty cold by now…
Norman: What, you got somethin’ might warm it up?
So, obviously we haven’t used ‘must’ in this context to describe something obligatory, or something you have to do, so what does ‘must’ mean in this context?
We use ‘must’ to talk about probability. When you know something for sure, like 100% sure, you don’t need anything but the verb you want to use.
The case is cold. (You know it, 100%)
But what if you are venturing a guess, but you’re pretty sure about it, like 90% sure or maybe a little more? In this case, you can’t just use the verb because that means you know, but you don’t. So you can use ‘must’ in this case to say that this is probably what is happening, etc.
The case must be cold — or like in our context — The case must be getting cold by now… (You are almost sure, but not 100%)
So, what if you’re 50/50 about it, can you use ‘must’ in that situation? Not really, ‘must’ means you’re pretty sure, but if you’re not sure and you’re just talking about one possible scenario, you can use ‘may’ ‘might’ ‘can’ or ‘could’ but not ‘must’.
The case might be getting cold by know… (I don’t really know, but I just think so; It’s possible; either way, I’m not so sure whether it’s getting cold or not…)
I hope you found that useful and you learned something new that you can add to your writing and speaking arsenal. Start using ‘must’ in this meaning and you will see that it is definitely very useful.
And now let’s see if you were paying attention to the episode when you watched it. Let’s do a quick comprehension check.