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She can't/mustn't/shouldn't be busy

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I have a question.
Would the following sentences be used interchangeably?
(a) She can't be busy today.
(b) She mustn't be busy today.
(c) She shouldn't be busy today?

Thanks in advance.
Hirashin
 
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No, they're not interchangeable. They have different connotations/contexts.

"She can't be busy today."

This is presumptive. It means that the speaker doesn't believe it possible (or believes it to be incredibly unlikely) for her to be busy. That's with normal intonation; with some different intonation (typically represented by an exclamation point in writing), it can also express disbelief in response to being informed that she is busy.

"She musn't be busy today."

This is explanatory. It implies that your presumption that she is busy explains some previously mentioned situation.

"She shouldn't be busy today." (I assume the question mark in your post was a typo.)

Like the first one, this is presumptive. But it is less confident; it means that her being busy is something you wouldn't expect. EDIT: Also, it can be future tense, unlike the others which are only present tense.
 
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hirashin

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Thanks for the help, Julimaruchan.
"She shouldn't be busy today." (I assume the question mark in your post was a typo.)

Like the first one, this is presumptive. But it is less confident; it means that her being busy is something you wouldn't expect. EDIT: Also, it can be future tense, unlike the others which are only present tense.
Yes. That was a typo. I'm sorry.
Is it that "She shouldn't be busy today." only refers to the future? Can't you say,
"She shouldn't be busy now"?
 
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Actually, I think I presented that wrong, and what I was thinking of can apply to the first one too. What I meant is that you can be referring to right now, or you can be referring to later in the day, depending on context. It's just because "today" is such a large frame of reference. Yes, "now" works too, though using it by itself typically implies that it's a changed state (if you don't want to imply that she was busy before, you would usually use "right now" or "at the moment").

If you omit "today" in any of these examples, by the way, "right now" is generally implied, unless some prior context causes another particular time to be implied.

Sorry for being confusing.
 
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