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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her.

    Depending on conditional clause, "might(could)+have+p.p" can become either counterfactual or predictive result.
    I learned that might(could)+have+p.p is past perfect to as distancing effect to denote fiction, but can it also function as presumption in the second case? In the second case, doesn't it denote past perfect? I'm wonder if might(could) is describing "have met" in the second case instead of being past perfect. I mean, how the same structure can mean two different things.

    1.If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her.(counterfactual)
    : He didn't come, but in the counterfactual case of his coming, he met her.
    2.If he came to the party, he might(could) have met her.(predictive)
    : I don't know if he came or not, but in case of his coming, he probably met her.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her.

    1. Counterfactual - he had the opportunity to meet her. We don't know if he did or not. (That is, if he would have met her or not.) Could - he would have the opportunity. Might - it's possible he would have - less certain.
    2. I don't know if he came or not - it's not PROBABLE, it's simple possible.


    The thing is, I don't walk up to you on the street, whipser "If he had come, he could have met her" and slip away, leaving you to wonder what I meant.

    If we are talking and wondering how David met Christina, I might say "Oh, if he went to that party, he might have met her there. I know I saw Christina there... not sure if David was there, though."

    If we are talking about how much David loves Katy Perry, you might say "Too bad he didn't go to that party.If he had gone, he could have met her. She spent the whole night just hanging out with the other guests."

    Real life gives context to what say and provides the meaning.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her.

    Thanks a lot! Regarding the following, do you mean the speaker is not certain whether he came or not? As I know, the speaker is quite certain about his not coming if he says "If...had+p.p" and that is how a counterfactual conditional goes.

    If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her
    1. Counterfactual - he had the opportunity to meet her. We don't know if he did or not

    Actually, my real question is much more grammatical, maybe there seems to be no rule, and if it is true, I will ignore it and try not to learn. My question was how could(might)+have+p.p can be interpreted in two ways. I learned in someone's precious material that "could(might)+have+p.p" denotes past perfect that can refer to counterfactuality(two steps back from the present tense by using distancing), but in case of predictive conditional, it seems to mean just presumption. So do "could, might" sometimes denote fiction and other times imagination?

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: If he had come to the party, he might(could) have met her.

    I don't see "could" and "might" as interchangeable.

    If he had come - indicates that he did not come.
    If he had come, he could have met her -- it's much more certain the meeting would have taken place (were he there).
    If he had come, he might have met her -- it's less certain the meeting would have taekn place (even if we were there).
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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