Modals of Deduction and Speculation ESL Games, Activities and Worksheets

Could be, Might be, Must be

ESL Modals of Deduction Activity - Speaking: Guessing, Forming Sentences, Writing Clues - Pair and Group work - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

In this fun modals of deduction activity, students make deductions with could be, might be, can't be and must be, and guess places from descriptions. Students take it in turns to read their first sentence to the group, e.g. 'Some people are walking and some are sitting down'. The group members then make deductions about the place being described, e.g. 'It could be an airport'. The student then reads out a second sentence and the other students continue to make deductions. This continues until they guess the place. Each clue gets progressively easier, so by clue 4 or 5 the students should know the place being described. Afterwards, in pairs, students think of a place and write five clues to describe it. Pairs then read out their clues to another pair who listens and makes deductions, trying to guess the place.
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Deduction and Speculation

ESL Deduction and Speculation Worksheet - Grammar and Writing Exercises: Matching, Sentence Completion, Gap-fill, Writing a Paragraph from Prompts - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this modals of speculation and deduction worksheet, students make deductions and speculate on what is happening in mysterious situations. Students begin by matching each modal verb of deduction or speculation with its function. Next, students read three situations, make deductions and speculate on what they think is happening in each situation by completing modal verb prompts. Working together as a class, students then brainstorm and write down the names of two people, a location and six random objects. After that, students complete a gap-fill text with the information. The text is about a missing person's case. Students then take on the role of a detective and use modals of deduction and speculation to write a theory about how all the information could be connected to the missing person's case. Finally, students read their theories to the class and then discuss which theory the students think is most plausible.
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It could be...

ESL Deduction and Speculation Game - Grammar and Speaking: Forming Sentences from Prompts, Freer Practice - Group work - Intermediate (B1) - 25 minutes

Here is a fun modals of deduction and speculation game for intermediate students. In groups, students take turns reading out a situation on a card to the other students. The other students then speculate on the situation and race to make an appropriate sentence that explains the situation using a modal of deduction or speculation. The first student to give a grammatically correct explanation that is the same or similar to the answer on the card, rolls the dice and moves their counter along the board. If a student is certain their explanation is correct, they make a sentence with must. If they are not sure about their explanation, they use could, may, or might. The first student to reach the 'finish' square wins. As a variation, students can play in turn rather than racing to answer.
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The Deductions Game

ESL Past Modals of Deduction Game - Grammar and Speaking: Matching, Forming Sentences from Prompts - Group work - Intermediate (B1) - 25 minutes

In this past modals of deduction game, students speculate on situations using past modals of deduction and try to match sentences and situations together. In groups, students take it in turns to turn over and read a sentence card, e.g. 'Oh no! Where's my car?' The student then speculates on the situation using a past modal of deduction, e.g. 'It might have been towed away'. The student then turns over a speculation card. If the two cards match (e.g. 'Someone must have stolen it.'), the student keeps the two cards and has another turn. The student with the most pairs of matching cards at the end of the game is the winner.
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What's the truth?

ESL Modals of Speculation Game - Speaking: Discussion, Guessing, Freer Practice - Group work - Intermediate (B1) - 35 minutes

In this modals of speculation speaking activity, students play a game where they speculate the truth behind various situations. Students take it in turns to pick up a situation card. The other students in the group then take a speculate card each. The student reads the situation on the card to the group, e.g. 'Your friend, Noah is always late to class'. The other students then begin a conversation where they speculate the truth behind the situation. The aim of the game is for the students to try to guess the truth about the person in the situation using the modal verb of speculation on their card. The student with the situation card listens to the conversation. When someone guesses the truth written on the card, the student stops the conversation and gives the person who guessed correctly the card. The student with the most situation cards at the end of the game wins.
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Who is it?

ESL Modals of Deduction Activity - Speaking: Guided Discussion - Group work - Intermediate (B1) - 40 minutes

This free modals of deductions activity helps students to practice past and present modal verbs of deduction. In groups, students read each question on the worksheet, e.g. 'You hear a student telling a joke. Who is it?' Students then use past and present modal verbs of deduction to discuss and answer the question. Students base their answer on what they know about their classmates, e.g. 'It could be Jin as he is good at telling jokes'. 'It can't be me because I can't remember jokes', etc. Each group then comes to a consensus and writes down the name of one student. When everyone has finished, the groups give their answers. The named people are asked if they agree that it could be or could have been them and if the justifications are valid. If they say yes, the groups that named the person score one point. The group with the most points at the end is the winner.
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Modals of Deduction and Speculation Practice

ESL Modals of Deduction Activity - Grammar Exercises: Matching, Categorising, Binary Choice, Gap-fill, Rewriting Sentences - Speaking Activity: Forming Sentences - Pair Work - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 30 minutes

Here is a modals of deduction and speculation worksheet for upper-intermediate students. First, students match sentences that present a situation to sentences that speculate or deduct a reason for that situation and label them 'past' or 'present' according to the structure they use. Next, students place the modal verbs from Exercise A in a table according to their function. After that, students identify and underline the correct modal verb phrase in sentences. Students then complete sentences with a past or present modal verb, plus a verb in brackets. Following that, students fill sentence gaps by choosing a matching sentence from a box and rewriting it using a modal verb. Lastly, students work in pairs and try to come up with five possible reasons for the situations listed using modals of deduction and speculation.
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