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    #1

    could or could possibly

    Consider these sentences of mine, please:


    a) I called anyone who could recommend a painter.
    b) You need to discuss with them how they could help you.


    Can I replace could with could possibly in the above sentences? Can I replace could with only might?

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    #2

    Re: could or could possibly

    You could, but the new sentences wold not mean exactly the same as the original.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #3

    Re: could or could possibly

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    You could, but the new sentences wold not mean exactly the same as the original.
    Thank you.

    How would they be different from the original? Could you please explain?

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    #4

    Re: could or could possibly

    The addition of 'possibly' to 'could' makes the possibility of the thing needed/suggested happening more remote.

    Crudely speaking 'could' has the idea of 'would be able to'; 'might' has the idea of 'would perhaps'.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #5

    Re: could or could possibly

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post

    Crudely speaking 'might' has the idea of 'would perhaps'.
    1) Does 'might' have this idea of would perhaps in every suggestion we make? For example:

    You might(~would perhaps??) try calling the help desk.

    2) Would may and might mean the same in the original sentences?

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    #6

    Re: could or could possibly

    Quote Originally Posted by NAL123 View Post
    1) Does 'might' have this idea of would perhaps in every suggestion we make?
    No. Each of the modals can convey a range of meanings and there are no clear boundaries between the meanings. There is also overlap between the meanings conveyed by some modals.


    You might(~would perhaps??) try calling the help desk.
    In that particular sentence, 'might' does not mean anything like 'would perhaps'. It conveys the idea of a suggestion and (once again, in that particular sentence), you could use 'could' with no significant change in meaning.

    I'm afraid it is impossible to give clear, simple general guidance for the use of modals in English.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 26-Mar-2020 at 16:18. Reason: Fix a couple of typos.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #7

    Re: could or could possibly

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    (once again, in that particular sentence), you could use 'could' with no significant change in meaning.
    One last question: From the above discussion, can I say that the difference between could and might in a) is much more significant than in b)?

    a) I called anyone who could vs might recommend a painter.

    b) You could vs might try calling the help desk.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 26-Mar-2020 at 16:28. Reason: Fix typo in quoted text.

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