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Thread: Could/Might

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    #21

    Re: Could/Might

    It might.

    Last edited by Piscean; 19-May-2020 at 13:39.
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    #22

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    If a native speaker used ''may'' instead, would it indicate a stronger possibility than ''might''?
    Not necessarily, but it will probably elicit a response from a purist pointing out that "may" is used for permission, not possibility.

    Raincloud: May I rain?
    Boss: Of course you may.
    Raincloud: Thank you so much.
    Cirrus cloud to boss: What was that raincloud talking to you about?
    Boss: It wants to rain and wanted my permission.
    Cirrus cloud: What did you say?
    Boss: It may rain. That's my decision.

    (Yes, I know that's a ridiculous conversation but ...!)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #23

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    What book should I use? I am lost.
    There is no book that gives absolutely correct rules about how modals are used, because there are no such rules.

    It is hard for learners to accept, but the situation with modals is, as several grammarians have admitted, very messy. Even if we just restrict ourselves to the three we are talking about, may, might and could, to express possibility, people use them in slightly different ways. Some people use all three, others only two, and others still may use only one of them. Some people feel a distinct difference between them; others don't. For me, may expresses a stronger possibility than might, but my might might express a stronger possibility than somebody else's may.

    This does not matter. Legally binding contracts do not use such words, precisely because they are vague. In real life, our knowledge of the situation mentioned gives us a reasonably good idea of the degree of possibility involved. As GS suggested, reading as much as you can will give you a better idea of how these modals are used. Trying to get a precise idea from grammar books is doomed to failure.
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    #24

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Not necessarily, but it will probably elicit a response from a purist pointing out that "may" is used for permission, not possibility.
    May is used for both permission and possibility, even by purists.
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    #25

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The problem with tests like that is that there is often no single correct answer. No one is saying that "It could rain later" is wrong. However, if you want to know what native speakers would actually say, you'll have to just take it from us that it's "It might rain later".
    There was another question in that test. "May I have/can I have one of these cakes?" Well, I read in my books that "may", "might" and "can" are used in such questions. Something told me to use "can" and it was correct. Would you use it too?

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    #26

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    There was another question in that test. "May I have/can I have one of these cakes?" Well, I read in my books that "may", "might" and "can" are used in such questions. Something told me to use "can" and it was correct. Would you use it too?
    Many Americans would use can. Many of their mothers would correct them and tell them to use may. The latter is considered more polite in some circles.

    I hope the test also accepted may.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #27

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Many Americans would use can. Many of their mothers would correct them and tell them to use may. The latter is considered more polite in some circles.

    I hope the test also accepted may.
    No, it accepted only "can".

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    #28

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    There was another question in that test. "May I have/can I have one of these cakes?" Well, I read in my books that "may", "might" and "can" are used in such questions. Something told me to use "can" and it was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I hope the test also accepted may.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    No, it accepted only "can".
    The answer key was incorrect then. I would have been less surprised if it had accepted "may" and rejected "can".
    I am not a teacher.

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    #29

    Re: Could/Might

    This is how I understand it. "May" ="might"=equal possibility. "Could" is weaker than both.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 20-May-2020 at 07:42. Reason: Removed unnecessary quote

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    #30

    Re: Could/Might

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
    This is how I understand it. "May" ="might"=equal possibility. "Could" is weaker than both.
    You're not going to get a consensus on this, Rachel, no matter how many times you keep asking the same question. There is no universal rule or likelihood rating for the three words. As we've said, context (as always) is everything! The advice given earlier in this thread was good - read, read, read. You will come across instances of "may", "might" and "could" over and over again and you can note each instance, how it was used, and what context it was used in.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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