I'm wondering how to say this sentence in the past tense:

He must be very clever

I have seen that the past tense of "must" is "have to" but it doesn't sound good to me to say something like "he had to be very clever" because it may mean that it was compulsory to be clever for him but I mean that he was probably clever.

Maybe the sentence "He should be very clever" may be more appropriate, but I'm not sure if this has a meaning of past.


Try the alternative:

He must have been very clever.

It has the meaning of past.

  • but it is a present perfect tense, what about if I need to use it in a simple past tense? – Juanillo Aug 2 '11 at 21:35
  • If you need to use it in the simple past tense, it would take away the phrase's logical probability connotations. – Thursagen Aug 2 '11 at 22:39

"He must be very clever" is close in meaning to "He has to be very clever", so you can use "He had to be very clever" for the past.

Similarly "He must have been very clever" is close to "He has to have been very clever", with a past form "He had to have been very clever".

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