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    #1

    can , could, or might

    I was taught that when talking about the possibility, I can use could, might or can. Then, in the following sentence, can I use could/might /or can? If not, why?

    Iwas reading the book last night before I went to bed. I never took it out of this room. It must be lying around here somewhere. Where can( or could or might?) it be? be swallowed, causing serious injury or even death.

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    #2

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by bosun View Post
    I was taught that when talking about the possibility, I can use could, might or can. Then, in the following sentence, can I use could/might /or can? If not, why?

    Iwas reading the book last night before I went to bed. I never took it out of this room. It must be lying around here somewhere. Where can( or could or might?) it be? be swallowed, causing serious injury or even death.
    NOT A TEACHER.

    For me, only "could" works in your sentence.

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    #3

    Re: can , could, or might

    NOT A TEACHER.

    You might find this helpful: https://www.usingenglish.com/files/p...ossibility.pdf.

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    #4

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    For me, only "could" works in your sentence.
    'Where can it be?' is fine for me.

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    #5

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    'Where can it be?' is fine for me.
    "Where could it be?" suggests I have less of an idea where the book is than "Where can it be?" "Could" is more emphatic than "can," and I guess "might" is even more emphatic than "could."

    What do you think?

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    #6

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    "Where could it be?" suggests I have less of an idea where the book is than "Where can it be?"
    I agree.

    "Could" is more emphatic than "can," This seems to contradict what you wrote first.

    and I guess "might" is even more emphatic than "could."
    I don't think there is any real difference between 'might' and 'could' in this example. I think I would be more likely to use 'could', but I cannot come up with of a convincing reason for my preference.
    5

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    #7

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    5
    Because "could" suggests a higher degree of uncertainty as to where the book is, this makes it more emphatic. Is my logic faulty?

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    #8

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    Because "could" suggests a higher degree of uncertainty as to where the book is, this makes it more emphatic. Is my logic faulty?
    I see. I would use 'emphatic' only if the speaker stressed the word 'could'; your use of the word in writing in that sentence seems a little unusual to me. Note the words I have emphasised - I am not saying that your use is incorrect or illogical.

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    #9

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I see. I would use 'emphatic' only if the speaker stressed the word 'could'; your use of the word in writing in that sentence seems a little unusual to me. Note the words I have emphasised - I am not saying that your use is incorrect or illogical.
    You're probably right.

    Could you please explain to me why you wrote "use" instead of "usage" above? You're talking about a particular way I'm using "emphatic," not the actual act of using "emphatic," so shouldn't you have written "usage"? If not, then I really don't understand the difference between those two words.

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    #10

    Re: can , could, or might

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post
    Could you please explain to me why you wrote "use" instead of "usage" above? You're talking about a particular way I'm using "emphatic," not the actual act of using "emphatic," so shouldn't you have written "usage"? If not, then I really don't understand the difference between those two words.
    Um, er, um, aaahhh.

    If I am asked about tenses, I can occasionally stun people with my brilliance.

    If I am asked about the difference between 'use' and 'usage', I pretend that I didn't hear the question.

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