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    #1

    something could/might happen

    What's the difference between "something could happen" and "something might happen"?

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    #2

    Re: something could/might happen

    Please give us some complete sentences to consider. You should always do this.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: something could/might happen

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Please give us some complete sentences to consider. You should always do this.
    1) ‘This could/might happen in Ohio if we’re not careful’, say Cleveland Clinic doctor, nurse fighting coronavirus in New York hospital. (https://www.cleveland.com/coronaviru...-hospital.html)

    2) But these tiny victories are achieved only by having very low expectations of what justice should be and what it should look like for African-Americans. Police have killed 664 people in the US as of Wednesday, but only a handful are indicted in any given year. So, there’s a lot of bad revealed by this video, and the reaction to it, which outweighs anything vaguely optimistic. It’s bad that we are, yet again, being inured to the image of black death. It’s bad that the University of Cincinnati (whose cop killed DuBose) cancelled classes in advance of the grand jury decision out of “an abundance of caution” – in other words, they feared a riot. That’s an insulting presumption further perpetuated by both Deters and Mayor John Cranley. And it was was really bad that Deters denied reality when he said: “This doesn’t happen in the United States. This might/could happen in Afghanistan.”
    (https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...-silver-lining)

    3) The police said they have arrested more than 200 people for violence, robbery and rape. Many of the foreigners are not surprised at what has been unleashed against them. Hostility to Africans from other parts of the continent has long been rife in South Africa but has escalated with the arrival of the Zimbabweans who are popular with local employers because many are well educated, speak good English and are seen as working harder than South Africans.

    Seven people were murdered in March, including a Somali, Zimbabweans and Pakistanis, in attacks near Pretoria. In January, two Somali shop owners were killed in the Eastern Cape.

    "They always hated us," said Muzenda. "We thought this might/could happen." (https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...we.southafrica)

    4) Some people went further than Houck, and said that they thought the structure would fail. In 1980, for example, a study published by the Water Resources Research Institute, at Louisiana State University, described Old River as “the scene of a direct confrontation between the United States Government and the Mississippi River,” and—all constructions of the Corps notwithstanding—awarded the victory to the Mississippi River. “Just when this will occur cannot be predicted,” the report concluded. “It could/might happen next year, during the next decade, or sometime in the next thirty or forty years. But the final outcome is simply a matter of time and it is only prudent to prepare for it.” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1...23/atchafalaya)

    5) I once asked Fred Smith, a geologist who works for the Corps at New Orleans District Headquarters, if he thought Old River Control would eventually be overwhelmed. He said, “Capture doesn’t have to happen at the control structures. It could/might happen somewhere else. The river is close to it a little to the north. That whole area is suspect. (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1...23/atchafalaya)

    6) In his diary about his year on bail Love, Paul Gambaccini, he ends with a warning: “They said it couldn't happen here. It did. It happened to me. Unless there is reform, it will happen again. It could/might happen to you. What are you going to do about it?” Love, Paul Gambaccini.” (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...-a6683986.html)

    7) Speaking this morning to the BBC’s Today programme, one pupil in north London said he was fully aware of the concerns around a repeat of the attacks that killed 17 in France two weeks ago.

    “Sometimes I’m very worried about the current situation because after happening to Paris it could/might happen to England,” he said. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...k-9990197.html)

    8) Dubinsky spoke poignantly about being the unwilling subject of trade speculation, not just this year but in previous years as well.

    “It always seems to be me,” Dubinsky said. “Maybe this year was a little bit different in that I haven’t had a great year statistically, so maybe that makes the decision easier for somebody. It’s nothing I can control, so I certainly didn’t lose any sleep over it. It’s part of our business.

    “There’s guys who have been traded seven or eight times and I’ve never been traded. So it could/might happen. I won’t even go there.” (https://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2...ding-deadline/)

    9) Mr. Seward: It’s my understanding that the Department of Homeland Security’s incident response team discovered that oil rigs are already under attack. But the fact that I can sit here and imagine scenarios where a key component, like water, might not be available to nuclear reactors is disconcerting. There are plenty of scenarios where the point at which two different parts of critical infrastructure intersect — like oil and gas pipelines, nuclear plants and water treatment facilities — could be jeopardized. All those things are interconnected. Our ability to have the society we have depends on the interconnection of those systems. An attack could/might happen tomorrow. It could/might happen next year. Or it could/might happen 10 years from now. There’s no predicting. (https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/...y-legislation/)

    10) The threat would become sharper still if Ukip evolved, forging a message that looked left on economics and right on culture – with, say, the party’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, taking over at the top. In continental Europe, similar movements have thrived, even supplanting the traditional parties of the working class. That could/might happen here. It could/might happen to Labour. (https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...eartlands-left)

    NOTE: Sentences (1), (4-10) were originally written with "could" and sentences (2) and (3), with "might". For further reference, see: https://ludwig.guru/s/sometimes+it+could+happen

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    #4

    Re: something could/might happen

    I think depending on context, "something could happen" is sometimes interchangeable with "something might happen", and sometimes not.

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    #5

    Re: something could/might happen

    My own strictly personal belief is that 'could' suggests a more impersonal belief, 'might' a more personal opinion. Also, because 'could' is often the distancing form of 'can', it carries (for me) a hint of ability on the part of the subject.

    1. Donald Trump could win the coming election.
    2. Donald Trump might win the coming election
    .

    #1 suggests to me that this possibility exists and that Trump may have the ability to win.
    #2 suggests to me that I believe the possibility exists.

    I am not getting into a discussion on this, because I don't think I can credibly justify this hair-splitting difference. In practical terms, there is often no significant difference.

    However, there can be a real difference, for example in

    3. Luke has a degree and a teaching qualification, so he could apply for that job in Turkey.
    4. Luke has a degree and a teaching qualification, so he might apply for that job in Turkey
    .

    Both of these can suggest the possibility that he will apply. Only #3 can mean that he is able to apply; it may not suggest that there is a possibility that he will.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #6

    Re: something could/might happen

    Quote Originally Posted by NAL123 View Post
    I think depending on context, "something could happen" is sometimes interchangeable with "something might happen", and sometimes not.
    You are right. There is definitely some overlap. Often, however, one is preferable to the other.

    Post #3 is TDL.
    Not a professional teacher

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    #7

    Re: something could/might happen

    I agree that post #3 is too long to do justice to. All I will say is that I would, unless I had a good reason to do otherwise, assume that those publications used the right word for the context.

    As far as my attempt at an explanation goes, here's the first context that sprang to my mind. In June of this year, my tennis club organised a singles tournament. I entered it. At the start of week 1, anyone could win. We all had zero points and hadn't played any matches yet. By the time we were two weeks away from the final, three people were a long way ahead of the rest of the field (Tim, Chris and Zoe). At that point, all three of them could have said "I really might win this tournament!" The rest of us knew we no longer had a chance.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: something could/might happen

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    My own strictly personal belief is that 'could' suggests a more impersonal belief, 'might' a more personal opinion. Also, because 'could' is often the distancing form of 'can', it carries (for me) a hint of ability on the part of the subject.

    1. Donald Trump could win the coming election.
    2. Donald Trump might win the coming election
    .

    #1 suggests to me that this possibility exists and that Trump may have the ability to win.
    #2 suggests to me that I believe the possibility exists.

    I am not getting into a discussion on this, because I don't think I can credibly justify this hair-splitting difference. In practical terms, there is often no significant difference.

    However, there can be a real difference, for example in

    3. Luke has a degree and a teaching qualification, so he could apply for that job in Turkey.
    4. Luke has a degree and a teaching qualification, so he might apply for that job in Turkey
    .

    Both of these can suggest the possibility that he will apply. Only #3 can mean that he is able to apply; it may not suggest that there is a possibility that he will.
    I think there's another way to distinguish between the two "could"s in (1) and (3).

    I think we cannot replace the "could" in (1) with "can" (since "can" doesn't mean "may be able to"), but it is possible to replace the "could" in (3) with "can". Am I right?

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    #9

    Re: something could/might happen

    No, you are not right. You can replace could with can in either of those sentences.
    Not a professional teacher

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    #10

    Re: something could/might happen

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I agree that post #3 is too long to do justice to. All I will say is that I would, unless I had a good reason to do otherwise, assume that those publications used the right word for the context.

    As far as my attempt at an explanation goes, here's the first context that sprang to my mind. In June of this year, my tennis club organised a singles tournament. I entered it. At the start of week 1, anyone could win. We all had zero points and hadn't played any matches yet. By the time we were two weeks away from the final, three people were a long way ahead of the rest of the field (Tim, Chris and Zoe). At that point, all three of them could have said "I really might win this tournament!" The rest of us knew we no longer had a chance.
    Two weeks before the final, when Tim, Chris and Zoe were a long way ahead of the rest of the field, Could anyone of them have said, "anyone of us could win this!"? Or it would've had to be, "anyone of us might win this!"?

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