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    #1

    could and might

    Dear teachers,
    I have two questions to ask:

    No.1
    It _______ sound impossible, but by the time the boy finished high school he's read all the university textbooks on psychology.

    a. could b. might
    The key is "b". As far as I know both bear the meaning "possibility". Could you please explain why "a" isn't correct? Is it because of the word "impossible"?

    No.2
    Is there any difference between "to discuss the issue" and "to discuss on the issue"?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.
    Jiang
    Last edited by jiang; 12-Nov-2009 at 13:27.

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    #2

    Re: could and might

    I would say "might" sound impossible. Could doesn't sound right.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: could and might

    Hello jiang

    See page 99 here.

    No.1
    It _______ sound impossible, but by the time the boy finished high school he's read all the university textbooks on psychology.

    a. could
    b. might

    No.2
    Is there any difference between "to discuss the issue" and "to discuss on the issue"?
    Yes, and context proves the difference:


    • There is nothing more to discuss on the issue.
    • There is nothing more to discuss the issue.
    • We need to discuss the issue.
    • We need to discuss on the issue.

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: could and might

    ..... he had read, not he's read.

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    #5

    Re: could and might

    No.1
    It _______ sound impossible, but by the time the boy finished high school he's read all the university textbooks on psychology.

    a. could b. might
    The key is "b". As far as I know both bear the meaning "possibility". Could you please explain why "a" isn't correct? Is it because of the word "impossible"?

    (Not a teacher)
    Compared with the remote potential of "less likely" by "could", the remoteness associated with "might" results in the concessive use is marked as even less likely in the speaker's view. Therefore,

    It might sound impossible, but by the time the boy finished high school he's read all the university textbooks on psychology.

  3. Nannou's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: could and might

    The right answer is "b".
    The table, in the attached file, may help you to understand more the use of modal verbs in formal English.

    As far as modal verbs are concerned, they are usuaully used to express the speaker's or writer's point of view.


    Note: Your additions and remarks are very much needed and appreciated.

    ***************
    I am a new teacher of English but I'll always remain a learner of this beautiful language.
    Attached Files Attached Files


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    #7

    Re: could and might

    jiang: this is a very subtle distinction. Modals are difficult!

    If the person says, "It could sound impossible, but..." it's like, as the person speaks, he is partly viewing what he is about to say from the listener's point of view, and partly his own. He acknowledges in advance that looking at it from the listener's viewpoint, he might react with disbelief (perhaps because once he didn't believe, and so has been in the shoes of the listener and having a first reaction of disbelief.)

    By the use of 'might', the speaker distances himself from the hearer: how he reacts to what the speaker is about to say is totally up to the hearer. It's as if the speaker has the outlook:" I've told this story to many others, and some don't believe it. Who cares. That's up to them. I ...I totally believe it and here's the story. You might be one of the disbelievers. That's completely up to you."

    Don't be confused, that 'distancing' means that the use of 'might' is therefore less polite. On the contrary, it is a valuable way of conveying the speaker's outlook, stance, and conviction of the truth of what he is saying: you might doubt it, I don't.
    Last edited by Excalibur; 12-Nov-2009 at 19:56.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: could and might

    I agree with Excalibur, both could be correct.


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    #9

    Re: could and might

    This is a hard distinction. Perhaps two other sentences will help to clarify:

    He: What? What? He must be out of his mind!
    Me: "I know, it could seem a crazy thing to do. God knows, I have my doubts too. But as his friends, the least we can do is offer our support."

    "It might seem incredible, but I saw it with my own eyes. Wilbur and Orville were really off the ground, in the air. It flew just like a bird!" *

    *Referring to the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk.

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    #10

    Re: could and might

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I agree with Excalibur, both could be correct.
    I agree, but in my experience, "might" would be far more likely here, and in these exercises, one has to choose the most correct answer, which might/could come down to "Which is the most used?"

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