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Hey everyone,

Any answers will greatly be appreciatedEmotion: smile

Let's assume that someone (person A) did something some time (time T1) ago.

At time T2, Person B tells person C what this person A did.

Person C does not want to believe what really happened (C does not want admit what was done)

So, C just wants to express his opinion such as 'there is no way that A could have done that'
referring to A's state at present time (T2)
T1
My question is:

--- What would C say to express his opinion?

??? 1. He can't have done that
??? 2. He couldn't have done that
??? 3. He mustn't have done that

The above are my shots. What are your thoughts?

Thanks !

Inanc
1 2 3 4
Comments  
1) and 2) are ok, in that they express a lot of disbelief (what happened is not possible, surely).

3) Does not work

Also

He wouldn't have done that (disbelief in what you are being told as person A would not choose to take that action).

He didn't! (An exclamation of horrified or even delighted amazement).
This is a great question, in that the personC can say each of these, and be
hitting an entirely different mark each time!
He CAN'T have done it! disbelief toward B, showing concern for A
He COULDN'T have done it! he probably did, but C didn't think he could.
He MUSTN'T have done it! It directly affected C profoundly and it changes everything between them. Very dramatic while salient distinctions, and open to a goodly amount of enterpretation,
mostly dependent upon the speaker's inflection
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Hi LF,
Would you say "He MUSTN'T have done it! " in that sense? I can envisage using it to express that someone had omitted or forgotten to do something, but not in the way you describe. Is this a difference between BrE and AmE?
In despair, head in hands, yea I can see it... only just, thoughEmotion: smile
I would have to agree with Abbie, Lookfar. It seems, given the scenario as laid out by Guest, that C doesn't have the information required to use such an epistemically strong statement.

Such a reading of "must", and I'll allow that there could be such a reading, seems to be better expressed by Abbie's suggestion of,

He wouldn't have done that (disbelief in what you are being told as person A would not choose to take that action).

Why? Because, as I mentioned, C doesn't seem to be in an epistemically strong [certainty level] position.
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I read all the replies. I feel a little confused now, since I am not a native speaker.

What I really wanted to know was how would C refer to A's present state at T2. More specifically, it seems to me that

??? 1. He can't have done that -- refers to T2 (present time)
??? 2. He couldn't have done that -- refers to T1 or some time between T1 and T2 (past time)

or, is there such no distinction (where time referrals just don't make sense in English in this sense) and am I just being so picky about this issue?Emotion: smile)

There are a billion of question I want to ask on your perceptions and points in responses and in other topics as well, but lack of time keeps me away from this. I'll be back !

Thanks alot.

Inanc
I read all the replies. I feel a little confused now, since I am not a native speaker.

What I really wanted to know was how would C refer to A's present state at T2. More specifically, it seems to me that

??? 1. He can't have done that -- refers to T2 (present time)
??? 2. He couldn't have done that -- refers to T1 or some time between T1 and T2 (past time)

JTT: First, Inanc, please clear up this one issue. Why do you think that sentence 1 "refers to T2 (present time) but sentence 2 "refers to T1 or some time between T1 and T2 (past time)"?
Guys, this is just an opinion, and I am prepared to be shot down in flames and immolated on this sacrificial fire.

When English learners ask questions, is not reasonable to answer the question first so that they understand, and THEN go in to the academic debate?

"I read all the replies. I feel a little confused now, since I am not a native speaker. "

Maybe I have a simplistic approach; I thought the aim was to assist the English learner to understand.
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