A: I bet that 's it. We can probably throw this out. (Present ability)

xunilxunil

Banned
Urdu
Hello all,
I am studying modal verbs.
Could you please help me with my analysis?


A: Look at this cord. Do you know what it's for?

B: I don't know.We have so many cord around here with all our electronic equipment.It could be for the printer I guess.(Present possibility)

A: No, I checked. The printer isn't missing a cord.

B: It might be for one of the kid's toys.( Present possibility)

A: Yeah, I could ask. But they don't have many electronic toys. (Future possibility)

B: I have an idea. It might be for the cell phone. You know - the one that I had before this one.( Present possibility)

A: I bet that 's it. We can probably throw this out. (Present ability)
B: Well, let's be sure before we do that.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I'm not sure about this 'analysis', because I think you could use "could" in any of the five examples without changing the meaning or inference significantly. :confused:

    What I will say is that I generally interpret "might" as a possibility but perhaps rather an unlikely one, "could" as a definite possibility, and "can" as a definite option.

    But let's see what other people think about it.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I agree with Donny B, but offer the following corrections to the analysis:

    B: I don't know.We have so many cord around here with all our electronic equipment.It could be for the printer I guess.(Present possibility)

    A: No, I checked. The printer isn't missing a cord.

    B: It might be for one of the kid's toys.( slight/reduced possibility)


    A: Yeah, I could ask. But they don't have many electronic toys. (Future Present possibility - he has the present possibility of being able to do something in the future.)

    B: I have an idea. It might be for the cell phone. You know - the one that I had before this one.( Present, slight/reduced possibility)

    A: I bet that's it. We can probably throw this out. (Present ability) - this is deceptive, the modal "can" indicates a present certainty but it is modified by "probably", which reduces the meaning to a present possibility.

    Thus can probably = could
     
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