christmas examples of ‘must’ in the past

christmas entertainment has provided three memorable examples of how to use must in the past aka third conditional.  remember that must in the past expresses the greatest probability or the most logical explanation, NOT obligation.

  • there are many, many representations, parodies, adaptations, etc.  of charles dickensa christmas carol, especially the main character in the novel, ebenezer scrooge.  scrooge has evolved into a word used to describe somone who resists the christmas spirit or has a negative attitude about celebrating christmas.

8 different scrooges

8 versions of scrooge

this clip from the 1951 version of a christmas carol shows a repentant ebenezer scrooge (played by alastair sim) waking up on christmas morning after having been visited by three spirits who showed him the consequences of his “christmas is a humbug” attitude.

he is unsure how much time has passed and fears he may have missed christmas day. when he realizes that he hasn’t, he says (at :33) that

the spirits must have done everything in one night. of course. they can do anything, can’t they? of course they can.

they can do anything, can’t they? is a tag question.

the spirits must have done it all in one night!

the spirits must have done everything in one night!


  • the famous christmas song frosty the snowman tells the story of a snowman who magically comes to life to play with a group of children one december afternoon.

the lyrics of the song offer this explanation as to how it happened at :27

there must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found

frosty the snowman-must have been some magice in that hat
i don’t know why i can talk and dance, must be the hat.


  • buck owens’ christmas carol santa looked a lot like daddy has two examples.

the song is written from the perspective of a boy who is skeptical about several details of santa’s visit to his house.  the chorus says

well, he didn’t come down the chimney

so mama must have let him in

and in the second verse (1:20), after explaining that he didn’t see any of santa’s reindeer or his sleigh, he concludes

but he sure brought a lot of presents

so santa claus he must have been

if he’s bringing a bunch of presents, he must be santa. no further questions.

the boy wasn’t sure what happened, but the way he understands it is that probably his mama let santa in the house, and because he left a lot of presents, it had to be santa, not his daddy.

can u give an example (christmas or otherwise) of how to use must in the past? what do u think about these two xmas carols?  are they on your playlists this holiday season?  share your comments under leave a reply




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *