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  1. #1
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    "could well have"

    "We have not done what we could well have done..."

    Hi,
    I have found many entries on the Internet for the expression in bold. Is it an authentic English construction? I think I understand what the idea behind "well" is, but I would like to hear an explanation from the natives.
    thanks.

  2. #2
    Offroad's Avatar
    Offroad is offline Key Member
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    Re: "could well have"

    Hmm, I am not a native, just a student.

    I'd say:
    We have not done what we could have done.
    Last edited by Offroad; 01-Apr-2008 at 23:29.

  3. #3
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Re: "could well have"

    "We have not done what we could well have done..."


    You are apt to see these variances in the US -

    We have not done all that we could have . . .

    We have not done what we are capable of doing . . .

    We have not done to the best of our ability.

    We didn't do all that we could.

  4. #4
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Re: "could well have"

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    "We have not done what we could well have done..."

    Hi,
    I have found many entries on the Internet for the expression in bold. Is it an authentic English construction? I think I understand what the idea behind "well" is, but I would like to hear an explanation from the natives.
    thanks.
    Yes, it's alive and doing well in English, JC. Modals cover a a fairly wide range for expressing levels of certainty. 'well' is normally added to the modals that express greater doubt to give them greater strength.

    Levels of certainty

    26 to 50% may

    1 to 25% might

    To place a 'might' or a 'may' at the high end of their ranges, we use 'well'

    He might well come to the party.

    Knowing him, he may well have bought the wrong stuff.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 9,750,000 English pages for "could well".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,420,000 English pages for "may well".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,360,000 English pages for "might well".

  5. #5
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Re: "could well have"

    "He might well come to the party."

    I doubt if you would hear this in the US - except in some tea room in New Hamphire, attended by women over 65.

  6. #6
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Re: "could well have"

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Yes, it's alive and doing well in English, JC. Modals cover a a fairly wide range for expressing levels of certainty. 'well' is normally added to the modals that express greater doubt to give them greater strength.

    Levels of certainty

    26 to 50% may

    1 to 25% might

    To place a 'might' or a 'may' at the high end of their ranges, we use 'well'

    He might well come to the party.

    Knowing him, he may well have bought the wrong stuff.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 9,750,000 English pages for "could well".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,420,000 English pages for "may well".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,360,000 English pages for "might well".
    hi,
    interestingly, the idea is just the same as in my language.
    i wonder how two so different languages sometimes can be so alike.
    thanks again.

  7. #7
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Re: "could well have"

    Quote Originally Posted by susiedqq View Post
    "He might well come to the party."

    I doubt if you would hear this in the US - except in some tea room in New Hamphire, attended by women over 65.
    Admittedly, not the best of examples, yet we can't deny that 'might well' is frequently used collocation.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,360,000 English pages for "might well".

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