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  1. gulesin's Avatar
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    #1

    May-might-could

    What are the differences''may'''' could'' and ''may''as used for possibility?Many books say that there are not any differences,but in some tests We can see three of them.SO there must be some differences.
    Last edited by gulesin; 21-May-2011 at 16:54. Reason: correction

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    #2

    Re: May-might-could

    Welcome to the forum, gulesin.

    Type your thread title into the Search box at the top of the page.

    You will find links to many helpful discussions on this topic.

    Ask us again if you have any specific difficulties.

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: May-might-could

    Quote Originally Posted by gulesin View Post
    What are the differences''may'''' could'' and ''may''as used for possibility?Many books say that there are not any differences,but in some tests We can see three of them.SO there must be some differences.


    NOT A TEACHER


    Kindly remember that "might" is usually very "weak."

    (1) It may rain tonight. = 70% (???) possibility.

    (2) It might rain tonight. = 40% (???) possibility.

    (3) Sometimes native speakers also use it as a courteous

    way to say "No!!!"

    Tom: Are you coming to my birthday party tomorrow?

    Mona (who does not plan to go): Oh, I might. It all depends

    on how much work I have tomorrow. (Well-mannered people,

    of course, do not want to hurt other people's feelings.)

    If a native speaker says that s/he "might" visit you/ call you/

    help you, do not be surprised if s/he does NOT visit/call/or

    help you.


    Respectfully yours,


    James

  2. gulesin's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: May-might-could

    Thank you very much Theparser,it became clearer on my mind,what is the difference of ''could'' from ''may'' and might''.In grammar books they are same,but in the questions they are different,thank you so much for your kindness.

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    #5

    Re: May-might-could

    Quote Originally Posted by gulesin View Post
    Thank you very much Theparser,it became clearer on my mind,what is the difference of ''could'' from ''may'' and might''.In grammar books they are same,but in the questions they are different,thank you so much for your kindness.

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Thank you for your kind note.

    (2) You wish to know about the use of "could" (the past tense of'

    "can") in questions.

    (3) Do you have a copy of Mr. Michael Swan's Practical English

    Usage? Many students feel that they cannot live without this book.

    (4) Mr. Swan devotes 8 pages to the use of can/could.

    (5) Here are a few things I found regarding its use in questions:

    (a) Do you think she could be lying? (possibility)

    (b) Could I have some more tea? (request)

    (c) "Can I ask you something?" More polite or formal: Could I ask

    you something? [I would use "could" if I were talking to my boss!!!]

    BUT: the other person must answer: Yes, you can.

    (d) "Can I carry your bag?" "Oh, thanks very much."

    Mr. Swan says if you want the offer to "sound less definite,"

    you may use "could": Could I carry your bag?

    (e) He explains that we use can and could to ask or tell people to do

    things:

    Could you lend me five pounds until tomorrow? (More polite, more

    formal or less definite than "can.")

    Do you think you could help me for a few minutes?

    (6) Finally, this is only my example:

    (In a crowded cafeteria. There is only one empty seat)

    You: Hey, dude. Can I sit here?

    The dude: Yeah, no problem, man!!!

    ***

    You: Excuse me. May/Could I sit here?

    A well-mannered lady: Why, yes, you certainly may/can.


    Respectfully yours,


    James

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: May-might-could

    Quote Originally Posted by gulesin View Post
    What are the differences''may'''' could'' and ''may''as used for possibility?Many books say that there are not any differences,but in some tests We can see three of them.SO there must be some differences.
    Where I come from, there is no difference in probability.
    "It may rain tomorrow", "It might rain tomorrow" and "It could rain tomorrow" indicate the same probability of it raining tomorrow. This is also my experience in literature from all English-speaking places.
    No doubt, that is why so many grammar books say this.

    By the way, your inference that there must be a difference in probability just because different verbs are used is invalid.

    Imagine these absurd scenarios.
    A: The newspaper says it may rain tomorrow.
    B: Well, I'll take my umbrella then.
    A: Oh, sorry, it says "It might rain tomorrow."
    B: In that case, I won't bother.

    C: Look at those clouds. I feel it may rain.
    D: Nonsense! All you can say from those clouds is that it might rain.

    Also, "There's a very good chance that it might rain" indicates a higher probability of rain than "There's a slight chance that it may rain."
    Last edited by Raymott; 22-May-2011 at 15:04.

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