Student or Learner
'Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. It is not raining yet. But the sky is cloudy and you think that it could rain. We use the present simple tense to talk about the possible future condition.'
I was reading this para. Why could has been used here? Firstly. could is the past tense of can. We are not talking about the past tense. Secondly, could can be used to take permission with lots of respect for ex in' Could you give me a glass of water, please'?. We are not asking for permission either.
In what sense COULD is used here then? Don't you think writing may or might would be correct here? Because ' the sky is cloudy and I THINK that it may or might rain. There is a possibility of rain here.
Kindly suggest what is correct.
The above explanation is misleading: "it could rain" is not an example of the present simple. "it rains" is an example of the present simple (which of course would be totally wrong here.)
It's true that could is the past form of can but it is used for much more than just talking about the past and asking politely for permission. It is also used to talk about ability and possibility and is indeed used to talk about the future.
So it could rain in this context is correct.
Talking about past forms: might is also a past form - the past form of may. But both forms are used to talk about future possibility: if you say might, you are a little less sure about something than if you say may. In the above context all three modals are possible:
it could rain / it may rain / it might rain.