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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    I didn't care much about the difference "low possibility" and "conditional" of "could", but lately it came to confuse me. Does this "could" mean "low possibility" or "conditional"?
    If it is "low possibility", it means "falling in love has a lower(some) possibility to make you ...."
    If it is "conditional", it means "If you fell in love, it could make you..."
    The two seem to have no difference, but do I have to care about it?

    ex)Rather than making you happy, falling in love could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed. According to a study in Italy, people who have recently fallen in love show signs of "Obssessive Compulsive Disorder" or OCD. ..One symptom of OCD appears to be unusually low levels of serotonin, which leads to anxiety and depression. Italian students who claimed they had recently fallen in love were found to have 40% lower levels of serotonin than their peers....So it is not surprising that after about one year, many couples get bored with their relationship. It means the chemical effect of love is over.

  2. #2
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    If it is "conditional", it means "If you fell in love, it could make you..."
    [AmE - not a teacher]

    IMO, you've not made your case for the example above because you've simply repeated the "could". You should have said

    If it is "conditional", it means "If you fell in love, it then will make you..."

    The answer to your question lies within the text:

    "falling in love could actually make"

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Thanks a lot! You seem to say if "could" is to be conditional, conditional should be expressed explicitly or implicitly and a sentence of possibility is based on facts. But sometimes it's hard to tell if a sentence is a conditional or not.
    For example,

    a)If he came to the party tomorrow, his girlfriend (woud/could/might) come to the party, too. - conditional
    b)(without any if clause) His girl (woud/could/might) come to the party. - (low possiblity or uncertain presumption)

    In grammar books, similar cases to b are defined as low possibility or uncertain presumption. How can I tell if a sentence like b is conditional or low possibility(uncertain presumption)? What is the standard to tell a conditional from low possibility?
    Last edited by keannu; 02-Mar-2012 at 15:46.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Thanks a lot! You seem to say if "could" is to be conditional, conditional should be expressed explicitly or implicitly and a sentence of possibility is based on facts. But sometimes it's hard to tell if a sentence is a conditional or not.
    For example,

    a)If he came to the party tomorrow, his girlfriend (woud/could/might) come to the party, too. - conditional
    b)(without any if clause) His girl (woud/could/might) come to the party. - (low possiblity or uncertain presumption)

    In grammar books, similar cases to b are defined as low possibility or uncertain presumption. How can I tell if a sentence like b is conditional or low possibility(uncertain presumption)? What is the standard to tell a conditional from low possibility?
    Do the books actually say "low possibility"? The phrase should be "low probability". A thing is either possible or not possible. (To me, "could" doesn't ascribe any degree of probability other than > 0%, so I disagree with the use of "low probability" anyway. But that is the term you mean.)

    Something that has a low probability of occurring is always conditional (in reality, if not in grammar). If something might happen, but might not, there are obviously conditions that must be right for that event to occur. In most cases, this doesn't have to be explicitly expressed as being a conditional event. (The conditions mightn't be known, or they might be too numerous to bother making explicit.
    "I could/might be answering questions here in exactly 24 hours time." This event has a probability of > 0% and < 100%, but the conditions which would make it factual are not worth elaborating upon. It's only when there is an important condition that needs communicating that a condition would be added. For example, maybe I'm terminally ill; the condition might be "if I'm still alive". Maybe I'm expecting guests; the condition might be "if my guests don't arrive". But in the normal course of events, the conditions are much more mundane. But the "could" is inherently conditional.

  5. #5
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    It seems low probability(possibility or whatever) is another name of conditional(hypothesis) when there is no distinct if-clause. I've been too much worried about the label difference of "would/could/might" without any conditional if-clause. But now I realize, from what you said, that it is only label difference(you label explict conditional as conditional and implicit conditional as low probability)
    I think ,from now on, I can treat any would/could/might meaning low probability(not past-related meanings and without if-clause) as conditionals(inherently) as well.

    ENGLISH PAGE - Could(I'm adding this to show it's labelled possibility but it doesn't matter)
    could
    possibility
    1. John could be the one who stole the money.
    2. John could have been the one who stole the money.
    3. John could go to jail for stealing the money.
    1. Mary couldn't be the one who stole the money.
    2. Mary couldn't have been the one who stole the money.
    3. Mary couldn't possibly go to jail for the crime.
    could
    conditional
    of can
    1. If I had more time, I could travel around the world.
    2. If I had had more time, I could have traveled around the world.
    3. If I had more time this winter, I could travel around the world.
    1. Even if I had more time, I couldn't travel around the world.
    2. Even if I had had more time, I couldn't have traveled around the world.
    3. Even if I had more time this winter, I couldn't travel around the world.

  6. #6
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    A thing is either possible or not possible.
    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary seems to agree with you:

    1: the condition or fact of being possible

    while its own example seems to belie its definition:

    Examples of POSSIBILITY

    • There is a strong possibility that I will not be chosen for the job.

    (emphasis mine)
    - Possibility - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  7. #7
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary seems to agree with you:

    1: the condition or fact of being possible

    while its own example seems to belie its definition:

    Examples of POSSIBILITY

    • There is a strong possibility that I will not be chosen for the job.

    (emphasis mine)
    - Possibility - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    I don't mind "strong possibility". But when someone starts using 'high' or 'low', they're talking about numbers - probability.
    We don't talk about there being a "possibility of 30%".

    prob·a·bil·i·ty

    noun \ˌprä-bə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

    plural prob·a·bil·i·ties




    Definition of PROBABILITY

    1
    : the quality or state of being probable

    2
    : something (as an event or circumstance) that is probable

    3
    a (1) : the ratio of the number of outcomes in an exhaustive set of equally likely outcomes that produce a given event to the total number of possible outcomes (2) : the chance that a given event will occurb : a branch of mathematics concerned with the study ofprobabilities

    4
    : a logical relation between statements such that evidence confirming one confirms the other to some degree






    Examples of PROBABILITY

    • There is a low probability that you will be chosen.
    • There is some probability of rain tomorrow.
    • With the dark clouds moving in, rain seems more like a probability than a possibility.
    • The probability of a coin coming up heads is one out of every two tries.


    Last edited by Raymott; 02-Mar-2012 at 22:51.

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    It seems low probability(possibility or whatever)
    The words mean different things. 'Whatever' seems to be a rather cavalier attitude from a learner of English to what is a very real difference of meaning and usage.

    is another name of conditional(hypothesis) when there is no distinct if-clause. I've been too much worried about the label difference of "would/could/might" without any conditional if-clause. But now I realize, from what you said, that it is only label difference(you label explict conditional as conditional and implicit conditional as low probability)
    I wish you'd also realize that just because something is conditional or uses 'could', it does not imply that the probability is low.

    I think ,from now on, I can treat any would/could/might meaning low probability(not past-related meanings and without if-clause) as conditionals(inherently) as well.

    ENGLISH PAGE - Could(I'm adding this to show it's labelled possibility but it doesn't matter)

    It does matter. There's nothing here that's labelled "low possibility". It seems to be showing two uses of could - one for possibility, and one as a conditional form of can.
    "John could be the one who stole the money". The page quite rightly suggests that this indicates that it is possible that John stole the money. It does not say that it is probable that John stole the money, nor does it state that the probability is low that John stole the money. The probability that this has occurred is not addressed.

    could
    possibility
    1. John could be the one who stole the money.
    2. John could have been the one who stole the money.
    3. John could go to jail for stealing the money.
    1. Mary couldn't be the one who stole the money.
    2. Mary couldn't have been the one who stole the money.
    3. Mary couldn't possibly go to jail for the crime.
    could
    conditional
    of can
    1. If I had more time, I could travel around the world.
    2. If I had had more time, I could have traveled around the world.
    3. If I had more time this winter, I could travel around the world.
    1. Even if I had more time, I couldn't travel around the world.
    2. Even if I had had more time, I couldn't have traveled around the world.
    3. Even if I had more time this winter, I couldn't travel around the world.
    I'm surprised that this is one aspect of English that you're not even vaguely interested in. There are two words - "possibility" and "probability", and they mean different things. Aren't you even remotely interested in using them correctly?
    If something can happen, it's possible. If something is possible, you might be able to work out it's probability. Many things are possible but not probable. Hence the words can't have the same meaning.


  9. #9
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    Your explanation was quite impressive. Now I understand the concept of probability much better than before.
    I feel kind of stupid if I ask this question to you as I've felt I''m already over it. It's a similar question.

    ex)...People from California would pronounce cot and caught in the same way...
    "would" in if-clause conditionals means a certainty in a specific condition like "will".
    For example, "If she came to the party tomorrow, I would be really glad". Doesn't this "would" still function as a certain "will" in an imaginary situation? But what I'm always confused about is if there's no if-clause like in ex)"People from California would pronounce cot and caught in the same way", does it mean a certainty on the condition as in "If there were the people from California, they would pronounce cot and caught in the same way" or low probability like "could" without if-clause?

    Many grammar books say "if clause" can be implied as a subject or an adverb phrase, so when I see sentences without if-clause, I try to think if the subject is a conditional-implying one or not. Okay, the summarized question is the following.

    1. If you met Californians, they would pronounce cot and caught in the same way.(certainty = almost 100% if the condition is met)
    2. Californians would pronounce cot and caught in the same way. (certainty or low probability?? Is "Californians" an implied condition to replace if-clause? )
    3. You would see Californians pronounce cot and caught in the same way.(low probability??? without any condition?)
    Last edited by keannu; 04-Mar-2012 at 13:18.

  10. #10
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default Re: could actually make you a bit crazy and depressed

    I seem to have given you too many questions, burdening you. Sorry. Okay, just one question.
    Is this "Californians" a conditional-implying word? So is this "would" lower probability than "will" or a certainty like "will"?
    ex)Californians would pronounce cot and caught in the same way.

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