doubtful possibility

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77Cat77

Senior Member
Chinese
Degrees of certainty can be expressed on a scale:
He is at home (= it's a certain fact, non-modal be)
He could be at home (= doubtful possibility)
He should be at home (= doubtful possibility)
He ought to be at home (= doubtful possibility)
He may be at home (= it's possible, but uncertain)
He might be at home (= less certain than may)
Longman English Grammar by L. G. Alexander
It's difficult for me to understand "doubtful possibility". Could anyone explain it to me? Thank you!
 
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Degrees of certainty can be expressed on a scale: :mad:
    {...}
    No they can't!

    My opinion is that you should ignore the whole thing. This attempt to grade degrees of certainty without any context is nonsensical.
     
    Last edited:

    77Cat77

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No they can't!

    My opinion is that you should ignore the whole thing. This attempt to grade degrees of certainty without any context is nonsensical.
    :D Don't be upset, please. Could you please make up some context from your life experiences? I will appreciate it!
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    :D Don't be upset, please. Could you please make up some context from your life experiences? I will appreciate it!
    It would take a very long essay to explain all the possibilities. I'll just say the following:

    A.
    (1) He is at home (= it's a certain fact :cross: , non-modal be)
    It is not a certain fact. The speaker may be telling a lie.

    B.
    I have no idea what the difference between "doubtful possibility" and "possible, but uncertain" is supposed to be. You cannot put numbers on phrases like this.

    It's like asking for a precise height to describe the meaning of "tall". Tall is not a number it is a personal impression. For example a four foot person would think that most people are 'tall' whereas a six foot person would think that most people are short.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it's pointless, too. As a native speaker it seems that it's impossible to narrow those meanings down that far. Where I live, I don't think anybody can tell a practical difference between may and might.
     
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