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    #1

    could or might/may

    In the following sentence, can I use ' could' or migh/may to indicate possibility?

    A.Where is the spatula? It should be in this drawer but it is not here.
    I just did a load of dishes last n ight and they are still in the dish washer. It B. musst be in there. That's the only place it ________ be.

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    #2

    Re: could or might/may

    In this sentence could is correct.

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: could or might/may

    why can't I use ' might' or ' may' which indicate possibility like could?

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    #4

    Re: could or might/may

    Quote Originally Posted by bosun View Post
    why can't I use ' might' or ' may' which indicate possibility like could?
    Because they don't indicate possibility like 'could'. They indicate possibility in different ways which aren't appropriate in this context.

    A: Where's the spatula?
    B: The cat might have swallowed it.
    A: The cat couldn't have swallowed it! Right.
    A: * The cat mightn't have swallowed it. Wrong.

    Some of the uses and the differences between the modals are subtle, and the only way to master them is with practice and use - ie. reading and listening.
    Last edited by Raymott; 29-May-2011 at 17:50.

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    #5

    Re: could or might/may

    If it must be in the only place they haven't yet looked, then it's a certainty, not a possibility.

    Rover

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    #6

    Re: could or might/may

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Because they don't indicate possibility like 'could'. They indicate possibility in different ways which aren't appropriate in this context.
    Could you explain these different ways more detailed please?

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    #7

    Re: could or might/may

    Quote Originally Posted by gulesin View Post
    Could you explain these different ways more detailed please?
    No I can't. See my amended message above. When I say "different ways", I don't mean there are X different ways that can be explained didactically. I simply mean that they are used differently.
    If you have a specific question, that is answerable. Otherwise a grammar book is the place to start, and a lot of reading is the next step.

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    #8

    Re: could or might/may

    If you can't remember where you put the spatula, then there are a lot of places it might be. (There are alternative places where it might be.)

    However, if you specifically remember putting it in the dishwasher, then that is the only place it could be. (There are no alternative places it could be.)

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    #9

    Re: could or might/may

    Then, what does this ' could' mean? I was told when we talk about possibility, might /may and could be used interchangeably and could indicates the weakest possibility. I am very confused.

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    #10

    Re: could or might/may

    Quote Originally Posted by bosun View Post
    Then, what does this ' could' mean? I was told when we talk about possibility, might /may and could be used interchangeably and could indicates the weakest possibility. I am very confused.
    emsr2d2, Raymott and Rover have done the best that can be done without, as Raymott suggested, a lot of reading and listening. Read through their posts again, carefully.

    'Could' in your sentence, means something like:

    That is the only place in which there is a real possibility of its being. This possibility is so real that it is effectively a certainty.

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