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    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 2

    Thumbs up can, could, may, might

    What´s the difference between can be, could be, may be and might be in context?

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: can, could, may, might

    According to Oxford,

    MAY/MIGHT for something possibly true or an uncertain prediction or intention. MAY is stronger than MIGHT.

    EX: You may/might get stucked in traffic if you don't go early.

    CAN/COULD for possible future actions.
    => CAN = stronger possibility
    => COULD = distant possibility

    EX: We can/could have a party (suggestion)
    EX: We may/might have a party (uncertain intention)

    FOR UNCERTAIN PREDICTION about the future, use may/might/could NOT can.

    CAN as generally possible
    EX: Smoking can damage your health.

    POSSIBILITY into the past
    EX: May have missed the train (perhaps) ( 35%)
    EX: The train might have been delayed (perhaps) 30%
    EX: The letter could have got lost in the post (it is possible 50%)

  2. Newbie
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 16

    Re: can, could, may, might

    I also have a question: if we speculate about future events, can we use might/could interchangeably? I have to teach pre-intermediate students... In the book, there are may, might and could mentioned. However, our native speaker is strongly against using "could" in this situation...

    For example, in this sentence: It might rain tomorrow., is it possible to use "could" instead?

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 10

    Re: can, could, may, might

    I've seen different responses many times. Is it different in different countries?


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