# Thread: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

1. ## difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Can someone explain to me the difference among the three?

If he hadn't been busy, he could have come to the party.
If he hadn't been busy, he would have come to the party.
If he hadn't been busy, he might have come to the party.

Do all the three make the same sense? As far as I know, would is for "willingness", could is for possibility or capability, and might is something other than the first two.
Some websites explain the order of chance is would>could>might, which makes me confuse.
I need your clear explanation. Thank you in advance!

2. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

***Not a teacher***

If he hadn't been busy, he could have come to the party.
...he would have been able to come (if he had wanted to)

If he hadn't been busy, he would have come to the party.
I know for a fact that he would have definitely been there. It was only his being busy that stopped him.

If he hadn't been busy, he might have come to the party.
Being busy stopped him from coming, but even if he had not been busy, there may have been some other reason for him not to come (he didn't want to, he would have gone out with other friends etc). i.e. it is a possibility that he would have come, but not definite.

Ade

3. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Are you saying might has less chance than would and could as I said in the question?
Like would(70~90%)>could(50%)>might(30%)?

Is it true? It seems you are saying might is the least possiblity of all with all other possible outcomes.

What about this sentence?
If she had failed the entrance exam to university,

1. she would have become a super model.(she defnitely tried to become a model regardless of her appearance)

2. she could have become a super model.(she was able to become a super model probably because of her appearance)

3.she might have become a super model.(she probably didn't have good appearance, but due to some luck like meeting a sponsor, it's possible she could become a super model, but anyway this chance is very low)

I don't know if my assumption for the three cases are correct, I need help.

4. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Originally Posted by keannu
Are you saying might has less chance than would and could as I said in the question?
Like would(70~90%)>could(50%)>might(30%)?

Is it true? It seems you are saying might is the least possiblity of all with all other possible outcomes.
You are making the wrong inference here.

If she had failed the entrance exam to university,

1. she would have become a super model.
It is a fact that this would have happened. There is no "try" here. She had the ability and desire and it would have happened.

2. she could have become a super model.
She had the ability to become a model. We don't know whether or not she would have, because we don't know whether she would have wanted to.

3.she might have become a super model.
She may have had the ability and she may have had the desire. It's possible that it would have happened.

WOULD HAVE - definitely (if the circumstances had allowed it)
COULD HAVE - ability was there, nothing external would have prevented it from happening, her own desire may have been the reason it happened or didn't happen.
MIGHT HAVE - it was possible -- it would have required the right things to have happened, which could be her own desire. She might have become a supermodel, or she might have decided to become a pastry chef.

5. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

It seems "might have" is related to talk about one of many possibilities, so I guess might have has the lowest chance among "would have", "could have", "might have".

And as you indicated, "would have" doesn't mean try, but talks about the result of the action, "her having become a super model"

And "could have" just focuses on her ability not on the actual presumed result.

Did I understand your description correctly? I hope so.

6. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

[QUOTE=Barb_D;705440]You are making the wrong inference here.

If she had failed the entrance exam to university,

1. she would have become a super model.
It is a fact that this would have happened. There is no "try" here. She had the ability and desire and it would have happened.
==========================================
but I learned there're two meanings of "would have"
one is "willingness" and the other is "presumption"
You talked about only presumtion focused on the result of action, but doesn't it have willingness(intentional) meaning in other cases?

It's because I think "would have" is the past tense of "would".

He would(intention) kill the mad dog if it attacked him.
=>He would have killed (intention) the mad dog if if had attacked him.

7. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Originally Posted by keannu
It seems "might have" is related to talk about one of many possibilities, so I guess might have has the lowest chance among "would have", "could have", "might have".
Barb was correct in what she wrote. However, for many speakers, 'Might have' cannot suggest 'ability', but 'could have' can suggest 'possibility'. It is, therefore not a good idea to assume that the possibility suggested by 'might have' is lower than that suggested by 'could have'.
5

8. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Originally Posted by keannu
I think "would have" is the past tense of "would". Not really. In your two example below, 'would' does not change. It is the change from 'kill' to 'have killed' that indicates the move to past time.

He would(intention) kill the mad dog if it attacked him.
=>He would have killed (intention) the mad dog if if had attacked him.
Without further context, we cannot say for certain that there is evidence of intention in your two examples.

9. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

***Not a teacher***

Are you saying might has less chance than would and could as I said in the question?
Like would(70~90%)>could(50%)>might(30%)?
'Would' is definite (100%), so 'might' has less chance than 'would'.
'Could' just expresses the fact that a situation is possible, but does not really express anything about a person's desire or intention about doing it. So 'could' just expresses the ability to do something (but see below).
'Might' means there is a possibility that the person would do it, but they may choose to do something else instead - so to some degree expresses more doubt about a particular outcome. So this is not just expressing the possibility of something (as with 'could'), but means there are other factors which may cause the person not to do it.

1. she would have become a super model.(she defnitely tried to become a model regardless of her appearance)
This means there is no question. If she had failed the university exam, she would have become a supermodel definitely (100%) [at least in the opinion of the speaker - even if he or she is mistaken]

2. she could have become a super model.(she was able to become a super model probably because of her appearance)
This probably means in the speaker's opinion, she would have had the ability (looks, personality etc) to become a supermodel and it is expressing the girl's ability to become one. This is where it gets a bit complicated.....When it comes to talking about aspirations, hopes, dreams etc, using 'could' can express an element of uncertainty. In other words the speaker is saying that he or she believes that the girl has the ability to become a supermodel, but even if she was to try to become one, there is a possibility that she could fail to do so. Another example of this is "He could have been a great basketball player" - perhaps said of somebody who has had an injury that means they will not play any more. "I could have been an astronaut" etc. With these sorts of 'aspirational' sentences, 'could' is more like would, but with a little more doubt (but not as much doubt as 'might')

In spoken English, it is possible to vary the emphasis and intonation on '...she could have' to express more or less likelihood (in the speaker's opinion) - but this is quite difficult to convey in a written forum.

On the other hand, when talking about simple facts (as in your previous example "If he had not been busy, he could have come to the party"), the use of 'could' means he would have had the ability to come to the party. It does not express anything about whether he would want to or not, but just that he would have had the capability if he had not been busy. Again, though, in verbal communication, you could put the emphasis in such a way that you introduce more of a doubt than this, but you would have to try quite hard.

3.she might have become a super model.(she probably didn't have good appearance, but due to some luck like meeting a sponsor, it's possible she could become a super model, but anyway this chance is very low)
Might just introduces an stronger element of doubt. She may have been very beautiful, but not particularly keen on becoming a supermodel, or she may have been very keen, but lacked the beauty or personality to become one. We don't know. All we know is that the speaker thinks there is a chance of her becoming one, but there is also considerable doubt (for some reason).

I hope this helps, rather than confuses.

Ade

10. ## Re: difference among "would have come", "could have come", "might have come"???

Part of the problem, keannu, in this and another post, which you started several hours ago, is that you are, I fear, trying to find simple answers to complex questions. The meaning and usage of the modals is one part of this; talking about factual, hypothetical and counterfactual situations is another; combining these two is yet another.

In suitable contexts , a sentence such as 'he would have come' can denote something that happened, and also something that didn't happen. 'Would' may express willingness, and it may also express certainty - though it is a hypothetical certainty.

'Will' can express certainty, but it can be used in sentences which, as a whole, suggest possibility. 'May' can express possibility on its own.

Try to identify one part of your problems and present that first, in a new thread. It would be helpful if you began with only two sentences to consider. When that problem has been resolved, we can move on to another pair.

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