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Expressing possibility, probability and certainty
Transcript of Expressing possibility, probability and certainty
MAY, MAY NOT, MIGHT, MIGHT NOT ,COULD
Other words and phrases to express possibility
Other words and phrases to express stronger possibility:
Note: Don't use can or mustn't to express possibility, probability or certainty.
OTHER WORDS AND PHRASES:
NOTES ON MODAL VERBS:
Other words and phrases
THERE'S LITTLE/ SOME/EVERY/ A STRONG LIKELIHOOD OF + VERB + ING/NOUN:
TO SAY IT'S POSSIBLE THAT SOMETHING IS
HAPPENS OR WILL HAPPEN, BUT WE
USE COULD TO EMPHASISE THAT THERE ARE
OTHER POSSIBILITIES IN ADDITION
TO THE ONE YOU ARE MENTIONING:
The photocopier isn't working-there may be
some paper stuck inside.
Bjorn could arrive some time this afternoon. ( or this evening or tomorrow)
I might go to the party. (or I might not)
USE MAY, MIGHT , COULD + WELL/EASYLY TO SAY A
The weather may
well improve by the weekend.
USE MAY MIGHT , COULD + POSSIBLY/CONCEIVABLY OR JUST MIGHT TO SAY METHING IS
I just might have time to finish that report
USE MIGHT TO EMPHASISE THAT THE
IS ALSO POSSIBLE.
IT'S (JUST ABOUT) POSSIBLE THAT+ SENTENCE
It's just about possible that we'll have finished the project by the end of March.
THERE'S A/SOME/A SLIGHT/LITTLE POSSIBILITY THAT + SENTENCE
There's a slight possibility that the whole project will be abandoned.
It's quite/very possible that + sentence:
It's quite possible that none of our clients will like the new product.
There's a good/strong/serious possibility that+ sentence:
There's strong possibility that our officers are going to be moved from the city centre to the outskirts.
TO SAY THAT YOU EXPECT SOMETHING IS OR WILL BE
You've got such a good level of English that you should have no difficulty in landing the job.
(very/quite/highly) likely + infinitive
ex.: He's not likely to make the same
I'd say there's a strong likelihood of him getting a first class degree.
THERE'S LITTLE/SOME/EVERY/A STRONG LIKELIHOOD THAT + SENTENCE:
There's little likelihood that we'll manage to meet our
USE MUST (AFFIRMATIVE) AND CAN'T/COULDN'T(NEGATIVE) TO EXPRESS THINGS YOU FEEL CERTAIN ABOUT BECAUSE YOU HAVE
EX. They must be making a lot of money with so many customers. He didn't know what we were talking about, so he can't have read our letter.
BOUND + INFINITIVE:
Their machines are notoriously unreliable and they're bound to break down before long.
TO TALK ABOUT THINGS HAPPENING NOW, IN PROGRESS, OR ARRANGED FOR THE FUTURE USE A CONTINUOUS FORM, I.E. MAY, MIGHT, MUST + BE GOING:
You must all be wondering why I have called this meeting.
WE ALSO USE THE CONTINUOUS WITH MODALS OF POSSIBILITY IN CONTRAST TO THE SIMPLE FORM TO EXPRESS A WEAKER POSSIBILITY:
We might be going out later.
TO TALK ABOUT
THINGS IN THE PAST USE MAY, MIGHT, MUST ETC. +HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
You must have been very tired after your trip.
TO TALK ABOUT ACTIONS WHICH TOOK PLACE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME IN THE PAST, USE MAY, MIGHT , MUST + HAVE BEEN DOING:
Ulrike wasn't in when I called - she may have been doing shopping, I suppose.