What Are Possibilities?
'Possibility' refers to something which we are not certain about it. When it comes to events, how sure we are about something indicates its possibility of happening. It is important to know, how to talk about possibilities in English. Here are some words that are used to talk about possibilities.
Using 'Can': (Present and Future)
We use the modal verb 'can' to indicate something is possible to happen, but we are not sure if they will happen or not. As you know, 'can' is a modal verb and it is followed by a bare infinitive to have a complete meaning. Can, in this case, refers to either a present tense or past tense. Check out the examples.
Usually, the modal verb 'can' is used to indicate a logical possibility. In this case, using 'can' is a better choice than the others.
The modal verb can is usually used in question and negative form to talk about possibilities. But it can also be used in a positive form as well.
Using 'Could' (Present, Future, Past)
We use the modal verb 'could' to refer to an event that you are uncertain about its occurrence. We can use 'could' in either present, past, or future tense with the same meaning.
May and Might (Present and Future)
As you know, the modal verb 'might' is the past tense of the modal verb 'may.' That is why people misunderstand these two on the concept of possibilities. Here is the thing, 'might' and 'may' both are used to talk about 'possibilities in the future or present.
The only difference between 'may' and 'might' is that 'may' is stronger than 'might' and things that might happen are a little less likely to happen.
'May' and 'might' are not usually used in interrogative sentences to refer to possibilities. And the negative form of 'may' and 'might,' (may not and might not) are used with the same meanings.
We can use 'cannot' to refer to impossible future or percent events. When we use cannot, we are almost sure that the event is truly impossible to happen.
You cannot use the negative form of could (could not) alone in the sentences to refer to possibilities or to be more precise, an impossibility.
May Not and Might Not
The term 'not' is added to might and may to indicate that something perhaps does not happen in the present or future. Check out the examples for more clarification.
Are There Any Differences between 'May Not' and 'Cannot'?
When we use 'may not' we refer to an event that perhaps does not happen, but when we use 'cannot' it means that we are almost sure that it is impossible to happen.
Drake and Simon
Could Have, May Have, Might Have
'Could,' 'may,' 'might' can all be followed by the auxiliary 'have' and a 'past participle' to refer to a possibility in the past. Remember, (could have + past participle) is usually used to refer to an unreal situation.
Cannot Have and Could Not Have
We use (cannot have + past participle) and (could not have + past participle) to refer to events that were impossible to happen in the past. However, mostly they are used in the contracted form. Check out the examples.
There are some expressions in English that are used to indicate uncertainty. Here are the most famous ones on the list. Take a look:
- there is a chance
- to be/will be possible
- to be likely to happen
Check out some examples to get to know their functions.
In English, you can use some 'adverbs' to imply uncertainty. Here are some adverbs that are used a lot, on the list. Remember, they may be more than these, but these are the most common ones.
Now check out the examples: