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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    definition of hypothesis

    I'd like to know the definition of "hypothetical" or "hypothesis" in English grammar exactly. In 1, does "could" denote a hypothetical situation? I've always thought "could" in 1 is a counterfactuality as the condition is "had" is a counterfactuality.
    In 2, which is about a question and answer about a product, does "could" mean a hypothesis or a counterfactuality? If there is no condition like in 1, does it mean a hypothesis?

    1. If I had more time, I could travel around the world.
    2. Question: 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....Think about it:e-books are more convenient and economical. What more could a reader ask for?

  2. Luuster2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I'd like to know the definition of "hypothetical" or "hypothesis" in English grammar exactly. In 1, does "could" denote a hypothetical situation? I've always thought "could" in 1 is a counterfactuality as the condition is "had" is a counterfactuality.
    In 2, which is about a question and answer about a product, does "could" mean a hypothesis or a counterfactuality? If there is no condition like in 1, does it mean a hypothesis?

    1. If I had more time, I could travel around the world.
    2. Question: 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....Think about it:e-books are more convenient and economical. What more could a reader ask for?

    Actually, a hypothesis is formatted with a IF, THEN, and BECAUSE.

  3. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    Do you know the difference between 1 and 2 in the example above?
    1.What more could a reader ask for?
    2.What more can a reader ask for?
    Last edited by keannu; 05-Sep-2012 at 03:34.

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    #4

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    Keannu, see definitions 2. and 3. here.

    As for your two sentences, there is little difference between them in my opinion. I believe the first one stresses more strongly the speaker's conviction that there is actually nothing more a reader could/can ask for. I think the first construction can be better understood if we append "even in the most unlikely circumstances" at the end of it. The assumption of the most unlikely circumstances then justifies the counterfactual "could".

  4. keannu's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    I thought 2's "can" is stronger than "could" as "could" was thought to be low possibility- by me. But as you said, "could" seems to be a counterfactual, hypothetical usage. I already asked this question to Raymott before, and back then, I understood his explanation to some extent, but some unclear part is still lingering in my head.

    Doesn't the speaker in 1 already know that "readers can actually ask for more", but just to emphasize his opinion, isn't he using a hypothetical question which has lower possibility than "can"? If you are confident, you will use "can", in my opinion. So I feel 2 is stronger than 1. In 1, the speaker isn't less convinced than in 2.

    1.What more could a reader ask for?
    2.What more can a reader ask for?
    Last edited by keannu; 09-Sep-2012 at 15:54.

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    #6

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, keannu. I believe the two sentences mean the same thing: the speaker is saying that there actually isn't anything more a reader can ask for. Both questions are rhetorical. If anything, I think the first sentence expresses more confidence. Both sentences say something like

    I challenge you to find an example of anything else a reader can/could ask for.

    It can be understood that when the speaker uses "could", they allow even counterfactual assumptions:

    I challenge you to find an example of anything else a reader could ask for, even a strange reader who likes to read books backwards and owns a cow that goes "woof".

    If we understand it this way, then clearly such a speaker must be pretty confident that no example can be found.

    I'm exaggerating here of course. In practice, I believe the two sentences can be used interchangeably.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, keannu.

  6. keannu's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    The following is the explanation of Raymott and it says "could ask for" is not a true statement but an opinon, with the speaker knowing even possible things opposite of what he is saying.
    I doubt if the speaker is really confident in what he is saying.
    And do you think you can paraphrase "What more could a reader ask for?" to "A reader couldn't ask for more"? I mean like from negative to positive and vice versa?


    ....
    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.

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    #9

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    And do you think you can paraphrase "What more could a reader ask for?" to "A reader couldn't ask for more"?
    Yes, I definitely think so. What a reader could really ask for is irrelevant here. By asking this rhetorical question, the speaker is in fact suggesting that a reader could not ask for more. Of course this is a silly suggestion, but people making silly suggestions is something we have to live with.

    My understanding of these sentences seems to differ from Raymott's. I'm not saying Raymott's interpretation is wrong or impossible. It's clearly possible since it actualizes in Raymott's mind. It may be a more common interpretation than mine. I simply read the sentence differently -- I consider this an "even if" type of condition. To me this sentence means the same as the sentence with "possibly" inserted:

    What more could a reader possibly ask for?


    My understanding is that the speaker is making a silly suggestion that there is no possibility of any reader asking for anything else. It's silly if we understand it literally, but if we see it as a deliberate exaggeration, perhaps not.

    I will stick to my idea that "can" would express pretty much the same thing here.

  7. keannu's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: definition of hypothesis

    And finally, about the concept of "hypothesis".
    I've thought that "hypothetical" is similar to "unlikely" or "counterfactual" that means "being quite far from reality", but my recent discovery of its definition like this confused me.
    ...If something is hypothetical, it is based on "possible" ideas or situations rather than actual ones....

    It's quite similar to "predictive" which is about "not being certain of something's factuality". Maybe my understanding is wrong, but my impression was like that.

    So in the example "What more could a reader ask for?", it seems to denote "What more is a reader able to possibly ask for?" instead of "What more is a reader unlikely to ask for?" What do you think?

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