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Detectives: Past Modals

Detectives: Past Modals

Students play a detective game using modal verbs for past probability. Detectives use evidence for the existence of a past situation to deduce what happened.

Level:  Advanced

Topic:  Past Probability

Grammar:  Modal Verbs

Time:  20 minutes


  • Make one copy of the Key for the teacher.



Students get in groups of 4 or 5 people.


Ask the students to choose one person in each group to be the Detective. The rest of the students in the group are the Witnesses. The Detective sits with his or her back facing the board.


Write the first sentence from the Key on the board. The Witnesses' task is to provide concrete evidence for the existence of the past situation, without mentioning the situation itself.

For example: "She must have studied all night"

She looks very tired.

She finished the test very fast.

Her eyes are red.

She usually gets good grades.

Her light was on all night.


The Detective tries to guess what happened from the evidence given. The first group's Detective to guess correctly gets a point for his or her team. 


Ask the groups to change Detectives, and write the next sentence on the board.  


Continue until there are not any remaining sentences. The winner is the team with the most points.

Printable Worksheets



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