Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Jadoon 84 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Urdu
      • Home Country:
      • Pakistan
      • Current Location:
      • Afghanistan
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    189
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Possibility or Suggestion

    While studying modals in a book written by nonnative speaker, I found that Might & Could are used for suggestion as well i.e.
    You might/ could sleep in my room today.
    You might / could have slept in my room. (Past)

    The book says that could and might can be used for possibility in past as well. i.e.
    He might / could have downloaded Windows7 in his home.

    Question: Me, being a nonnative speaker, how will I come to know about a sentence if it means a possibility or suggestion.

    Could you please clear my confusion?

    with kind regards

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,640
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Possibility or Suggestion

    Context.

    If I say 'The door was unlocked, so that we might leave at any time', that's a possibility.

    If I say 'Might I open the window?', that's a suggestion.

    There's probably a rule - something to do with the tense of the verb in the main clause. But context works for me.

    b

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,290
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Possibility or Suggestion

    How do you make a suggestion in the past, when there's no chance of it being taken up?

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,640
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Possibility or Suggestion

    Exactly! There's the theoretical possibility of ambiguity, but I can't think of an example when the distinction is not perfectly clear in practice. To quote Lewis Carroll said 'Take care the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves'.

    b

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,345
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Possibility or Suggestion

    As an American, I wouldn't use "might" for past permission (as I saw in a recent post) or suggestion.
    • You may leave the table when you've eaten your vegetables (current permission)
    • Yesterday, you could have/were allowed to leave the table when... (past permission) - would not use "might have" there.



    • You may have found a solution! (present possibility)
    • Yesterday, you might have found the solution we have been looking for. It's still being tested.



    • You may/might want to ask someone who knows about this stuff (present suggestion)



    • May/Might I open the window? Request. American are less likely to use "might" here, I believe.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

Similar Threads

  1. possibility
    By Taka in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 19-Jun-2012, 16:43
  2. could/possibility
    By navi tasan in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Feb-2012, 13:08
  3. [Grammar] could for past possibility
    By licinio in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 26-Sep-2011, 21:16
  4. possibility
    By tasdibek in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 26-Apr-2006, 05:29
  5. not the least possibility
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-Jun-2003, 15:08

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •