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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    What more could a reader ask for?

    Does this "could" denote a hypothethical mood like in 2nd conditional? Like in "With these conditions, what more could a reader ask for"? Or a low possibility in the present for future? The condition seems a real one(light weight, small size, cheap price), then why not "What more can a reader ask for?"

    ex)Are e-books better than paper books?
    Pros : I completely agree. I love reading more than anything else in the world. That's why I love e-books. Now I don't have to carry around a heavy backapack all the time. I can download as many e-books as I want on to my e-reader and carry it in my pocket. What's more, e-books are cheaper. A new hardcover book that costs $30 can be downloaded for as little as $9.99. Think about it:e-books are more convenient and economical. What more could a reader ask for?

    hgi50

  2. keannu's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    I think it's an unlikely or counterfactual question meaning "A reader can't ask for any more".

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I think it's an unlikely or counterfactual question meaning "A reader can't ask for any more".
    I'd say it's hypothetical. It's neither unlikely nor counterfactual. In fact, a reader can/could quite easily ask for more. A reader could ask for colour, a wider range of fonts and sizes in e-books, more options such as pagination rather than percentage read, etc.
    So, it's not true a statement. It's only true conditionally, and the condition is the mindset of the person who says it. So, "A reader who thinks like me, who is reasonable and rational, who knows the limitations of the medium, who is so pleased with the current technology compared to having to read a physical book ... can't/couldn't (at this stage of development of the technology) ask for more."

    It's the same difference as between "It is impossible for a reader to ask for more" and "It would be impossible for a reader to ask for more." When giving opinions or impressions like this which are not literally true (or when the speaker doesn't want to have to prove the truthfulness), it's quite common to use "could/would be" rather than "can/is", because there're implying an unspecified conditional.

  4. keannu's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Thanks a lot! I recently saw a TV show about a Spanish queen who was betrayed by her beloved husband, finally giving her throne to him. She never expected him to spread a bad rumor to others that she is mad to make her step down. So when she found out he was stabbing her in the back, she said to him, "How could you do this to me"?
    I interpreted this in both ways like "How were you able to do this (in the past)?" or "How can you do this(in the present)?", and the translation went for the latter. Now I can understand it was the latter as you explained.

    One more question, as it is a rhetoric question for emphasis, so only in the question form, does it make impressive nuance?
    I mean if you said "A reader couldn't ask for any more", is it less impressive than "How could a reader ask for any more?"?

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Thanks a lot! I recently saw a TV show about a Spanish queen who was betrayed by her beloved husband, finally giving her throne to him. She never expected him to spread a bad rumor to others that she is mad to make her step down. So when she found out he was stabbing her in the back, she said to him, "How could you do this to me"?
    I interpreted this in both ways like "How were you able to do this (in the past)?" or "How can you do this(in the present)?", and the translation went for the latter. Now I can understand it was the latter as you explained.
    Yes, that is correct.

    One more question, as it is a rhetoric question for emphasis, so only in the question form, does it make impressive nuance?
    I mean if you said "A reader couldn't ask for any more", is it less impressive than "How could a reader ask for any more?"?
    "A reader couldn't ask for more" is an assertion easily proved wrong - for example, I could ask for colour.
    "What more could a reader ask for?" is a rhetorical question.
    Personally, I don't find one more "impressive" than the other. They both invite a response that the reader could easily ask for more, and some examples of such things.

  6. keannu's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    I'm really sorry but this will be the real last question. Is this hypothetical "could" different from the 3 following "could" which are explained in my grammar book as low possibility(presumption) in the present or future, but thinking about your explanation, I came to think these are no different from the hypothetical "could", but I'm not sure.
    I always translated them as low possibility different from this hypothetical "could". If the two are different, I think I have to distinguish the two depending on context.

    **hypothetical "could" - A reader couldn't ask for more

    a. What she was saying could be true. - uncertain(low) possibility
    b. He could be her new boyfriend - lower possibility or presumption than present modals(can))
    c. She could come to the party tomorrow. - low possibility

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I'm really sorry but this will be the real last question. Is this hypothetical "could" different from the 3 following "could" which are explained in my grammar book as low possibility(presumption) in the present or future, but thinking about your explanation, I came to think these are no different from the hypothetical "could", but I'm not sure.
    I always translated them as low possibility different from this hypothetical "could". If the two are different, I think I have to distinguish the two depending on context.

    **hypothetical "could" - A reader couldn't ask for more

    a. What she was saying could be true. - uncertain(low) possibility
    b. He could be her new boyfriend - lower possibility or presumption than present modals(can))
    c. She could come to the party tomorrow. - low possibility
    Wouldn't it be better to give examples with "couldn't". When you are dealing with nuances of meaning, you need to compare like with like. For example, the opposite of "could be true" is not "couldn't be true", so even if these were of the same meaning as "A reader couldn't ask for more", that doesn't mean that similar uses of "couldn't" would be the same.
    Eg. you should be comparing with "What she was saying couldn't be true."
    If you substitute "couldn't" for "could" in those sentences, you'll find that it means "no possibility". This is different from "A reader couldn't ask for more" - which is hyperbole and not literal.

  8. keannu's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Okay, that must be kind of confusing as it's not a like-to-like comparison, then what about this comparison? Does it make sense?

    a)Opponent or competitor of e-books: (going against E-books sales) E-books don't have good qualities, so a reader could ask for more. => (hypothetical)
    b)Developer of e-books : We have developed e-books to an almost perfect state, but they still have a few flaws,
    so if they are sold to customers now, a reader could ask for more. (low possibility)

  9. Raymott's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: What more could a reader ask for?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Okay, that must be kind of confusing as it's not a like-to-like comparison, then what about this comparison? Does it make sense?

    a)Opponent or competitor of e-books: (going against E-books sales) E-books don't have good qualities, so a reader could ask for more. => (hypothetical)
    b)Developer of e-books : We have developed e-books to an almost perfect state, but they still have a few flaws,
    so if they are sold to customers now, a reader could ask for more. (low possibility)
    You were talking about "couldn't".
    These examples are of "could". You've narrowed down the argument, then switched the parameters.
    Anyhow, in the new situation you've presented, they seem to mean the same to me - ie. it's not impossible for a reader to ask for more.
    The probability doesn't have to be low. "Could" simply implies that the probability isn't 0%.

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