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    #1

    can/might

    Hello,

    I have a grammar question regarding can/ might and would be grateful if someone could clarify the answer for me.

    It's an exercise from New English File Upper Intermediate Workbook.

    In the given sentence one is expected to chose the correct alternative:

    Be careful! The floor might/ can be slippery because it's just been cleaned.

    The correct answer is might. Why not can?

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: can/might

    The two words mean different things. If you have used water on the floor to clean it then you could expect it to be slippery. (Might.) But if you say it can be slippery you are talking about a possibility, thus:

    A: This floor can be slippery.
    B: Why would that be?
    A: Maybe somebody has spilled water on it.



  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: can/might

    In your sentence you can also use "could" or "may". All four modal verbs can indicate possibility.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 22-Nov-2014 at 11:13. Reason: Fixed tiny typo

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    #4

    Re: can/might

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    The two words mean different things. If you have used water on the floor to clean it then you could expect it to be slippery. (Might.) But if you say it can be slippery you are talking about a possibility, thus:

    A: This floor can be slippery.
    B: Why would that be?
    A: Maybe somebody has spilled water on it.


    Thank you for your answer. That is how I umderstood the two sentences, but does the meaning of the secone one necessairly exclude its usage in the given context? Because although the floor has just been cleaned it may or may not be slippery, which to my mind indicates a possibility(the speaker knows from experience that this floor is often slippery when wet) so I would think can is an option. But the answer key says otherwise.

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    #5

    Re: can/might

    MikeNewYork, thank you for your answer. I know that all four of them are used to convey possibility, but in this particular context is can really not an option?

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    #6

    Re: can/might

    For me, "can" is an option.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: can/might

    Quote Originally Posted by aggiesteph View Post
    Hello,

    I have a grammar question regarding can/ might and would be grateful if someone could clarify the answer for me.

    It's an exercise from New English File Upper Intermediate Workbook.

    In the given sentence one is expected to chose the correct alternative:

    Be careful! The floor might/ can be slippery because it's just been cleaned.

    The correct answer is might. Why not can?
    Specifically, the floor is wet, so it might be slippery. Use "can" to talk about a more general possibility. (A floor can be slippery.)

    (I would just say the floor is wet.)


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    #8

    Re: can/might

    For me "can" is not an option.

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    #9

    Re: can/might

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    For me "can" is not an option.
    Could this then be a British vs. American difference? Because the book that does not give can as an answer focuses on British English. I am more familiar with Amrican English and to me can sounded like something I have heard people say, that is why I posted the question.

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    #10

    Re: can/might

    It may well be. I have certainly heard it in AmE.

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