[Vocabulary] Can't possibly have

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Kazuo

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Hello!

A.There's something wrong with the arithmetic ― we can't possibly have sold that many copies.(from OALD)

Interpretation:
The shop assistant assumes that we (=the shop) didn’t sell that many copies.
The related facts:
The shop sold 100 copies.
The numbers added up to 110.

B. There's something wrong with the arithmetic ― we can possibly have sold that few copies.( = an arrangement of the sentence A )

Interpretation:
The shop assistant assumes that we (=the shop) didn’t sell that few copies.
The related facts:
The shop sold 100 copies.
The numbers added up to 90.

Please consider if the reasoning above is right.

Thanks in advance
 
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leonwool

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Can in the past = could.

In the first A: I prefer "We couldn't possibly have...' - but here it seems not as bad a mistake as using 'Can possibly have' - That one definitely feels like it should be "Could possibly have'

Particularly with the word 'possibly'
 

Kazuo

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Hello, leonwool!

Thank you very much for your reply.

1. The points to be confirmed
(1). Question B is given so as to agree with the related facts of B.
(2). I think you corrected my error according to (1). That is: can possibly have could possibly have

2. The reason for the original sentence B being wrong
B. There's something wrong with the arithmetic ― we can possibly have sold that few copies.
my new interpretation
The shop assistant assumes that it is possible we (=the shop) sold that few copies. :-?

3. Your correction
B. There's something wrong with the arithmetic ― we could possibly have sold that few copies.
my interpretation
The shop assistant assumes it was possible to sell that few books, but we didn’t. The meaning is almost not clear to me.
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Please consider 2 and 3.

Thanks in advance
 

Tdol

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When making assumptions, we tend to use the negative form 'can't have + past participle' but not the positive form.
 
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