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  1. #1

    "can or could" \ "may or might"

    according to the definition,

    -when you think there is posssiblilty some whing will happen- you use "can" otherwise you use "could"

    -...... "you use may".....otherwise you use "might"



    ex: which one is correct: you could read the book to earn extra credit.
    you can read the book to earn extra.........

    ex: can someone help me ( on this occasion, i am thinking that someone might/might help; also, there is possiblity for somebody helping me)

    (on this occasion, i am thinking that someone might/might not read the book; also, there is possiblity for somebody reading it.)




    can someone provide a concise and brief explaination about the proper ways to use it?


    what tense should i use , "can" or " could"------ how about this sentence ( what can you do to pass the exam? we use "could" or "can" ? and why?)
    Last edited by endeavor6636; 10-Aug-2006 at 22:37.

  2. RonBee's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    You can use either can or could to indicate possibility. Examples:
    You could read the book to earn extra credit.
    You can read the book to earn extra credit if you want.
    You can use can in making a request, but you could also use could. The word could is, perhaps, more formal.)

    The word could is, of course, used to express possibility. ("It could happen.")

    The word might expresses possibility. for exanmple, "A person might respond to your request" means it is a possibility but not a certainty. It could happen, but we don't know if it will.



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    #3

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    I saw your reply well.
    Then, you say may/might and can/could all can mean a posiblility in a certain occasion?

  3. #4

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    May and can are used for things in present.
    Might and could are used for things in the future.
    Might have and could have are used for things in the past.

    You use can, as a measure of ability. Whether or not some can do something is their ability to do it.

    You use may, as a measure of willingness. Whether or not someone is willing to do the specified task.

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    #5

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    Quote Originally Posted by rockjopok View Post
    I saw your reply well.
    Then, you say may/might and can/could all can mean a posiblility in a certain occasion?
    As always, context is the determing factor.
    It may be true.
    It might happen.
    You can do it.
    It could be better.


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    #6

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    Quote Originally Posted by endeavor6636 View Post
    according to the definition,

    -when you think there is posssiblilty some thing will happen- you use "can" otherwise you use "could"

    -...... "you use may".....otherwise you use "might"

    When you think there is a general possibility, ENLs use 'can'

    The weather can be nice there in Autumn.

    but for a specific possibility we generally don't use 'can',

    ??The weather can be nice tomorrow. ??

    For a specific situation we use [I]may, might[I] or could.

    The weather may/might/could be nice tomorrow.




    ex: which one is correct: A) you could read the book to earn extra credit.
    B)you can read the book to earn extra.........

    ex: can someone help me ( on this occasion, i am thinking that someone might/might help; also, there is possiblity for somebody helping me)

    (on this occasion, i am thinking that someone might/might not read the book; also, there is possiblity for somebody reading it.)

    Both are correct and both express the same meaning,

    It's possible for you to earn extra credit by ...

    Without knowing the speaker's mind, one difference could be that by using 'could' the speaker is stating what they view as more theoretical options or the speaker is being more deferential, less pointed than what would be expressed with 'can'.

    This situation could illustrate a mix of deontic [social sense modal] 'could/can'. What I mean is that the context could be either,

    You are allowed to earn extra ...

    or

    It's possible to earn extra ...



    ex: can someone help me ( on this occasion, i am thinking that someone might/might help; also, there is possiblity for somebody helping me)

    When we use 'can' like this, it's more of a deontic [social]modal use. Modals are used for epistemic [levels of certainty] meanings and deontic [social/politeness] meanings.

    Of course, the deontic modal meaning still derives from the core epistemic meaning, in this case,

    "Can someone help me?" denotes "Is it possible for someone to help me?" but can, could, will, would are all used to express differing levels of politeness [deontic modal meaning].

    Because could/would are more conditional, less certain in their epistemic modal meaning, that carries over to the deontic uses and they are viewed as more polite, more deferential.



    can someone provide a concise and brief explaination about the proper ways to use it?


    what tense should i use , "can" or " could"------ how about this sentence ( what can you do to pass the exam? we use "could" or "can" ? and why?)
    If you continue to think that modals have tense, that 'could' is past tense and 'can' is present tense, then you'll never be able to understand the differences.

    This is crucial to understanding modals so I'll put it all in caps [no yelling intended.

    IN MODERN ENGLISH, MODAL VERBS ARE TENSELESS.

    I've explained the difference, Endeavor, so why don't you try to explain to us which one and why in your last example, that I've put in bold, above.


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    #7

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    The other crucial thing to remember about these modals is that "can & could" only state that something is possible, while "may & might" express certain ranges of certainty/possibility.

    'might' expresses a weaker certainty than 'may'. In speech, we can "raise or lower the certainty level" of either one with intonation or for speech or writing we can use, 'very well' to make either sound more certain.

    He very well might ...

    She very well may ...

  5. RonBee's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    How about some more examples of the use of can, could, would, may, and might?



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    #9

    Re: "can or could" \ "may or might"

    My guess is that you're addressing this to me, RonBee.

    But that's way too open ended a request, Sire. The modals do way way too much in English that a few more examples would only serve to confuse, I'm afraid.

    If you have some specific ideas in mind, I'd be more than willing to discuss them with you.

    Cheers matey.

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