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1) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

2) A vegetarian diet may provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Do they mean the same thing? Or are they different?

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They're different.

1) can involves potential, power, efficacy. Will.
2) may involves possibility. Maybe. Maybe not. Take a chance.

CJ

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CalifJim

They're different.

1) can involves potential, power, efficacy. Will.
2) may involves possibility. Maybe. Maybe not. Take a chance.

CJ

Are the following paraphrases correct?

1) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet is able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.


2) A vegetarian diet may provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet may be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It may be possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

I paraphrased "may" in this way, because in an earlier thread of mine, you said "may/might" is sometimes borrowed into the "ability" group of "can/could", as "may/might be able to".

Is the paraphrase above correct for sentence 2)?

Or

Do I have to consider "may" as expressing "epistemic" modality or "M-possibility", as you call it?

~ It is possible that a vegetarian diet provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ Maybe (maybe not) a vegetarian diet provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Rizan Malik

1) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet is able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

The second one doesn't sound right to me. That paraphrase sounds more appropriate for 'may'.

Rizan Malik

2) A vegetarian diet may provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet may be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It may be possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

I paraphrased "may" in this way, because in an earlier thread of mine, you said "may/might" is sometimes borrowed into the "ability" group of "can/could", as "may/might be able to".

Is the paraphrase above correct for sentence 2)?

Those sound reasonable as paraphrases, though the first does pull in "ability" where the writer might not have intended it. Sometimes you just don't know. We can't read other people's minds.

CJ

CalifJim
Rizan Malik

1) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet is able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

The second one doesn't sound right to me. That paraphrase sounds more appropriate for 'may'.

Are the following paraphrases distinguishable? (paraphrases for "may")

It is possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

It is possible that a vegetarian diet provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Rizan Malik

2) A vegetarian diet may provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ A vegetarian diet may be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It may be possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

I paraphrased "may" in this way, because in an earlier thread of mine, you said "may/might" is sometimes borrowed into the "ability" group of "can/could", as "may/might be able to".

Is the paraphrase above correct for sentence 2)?

Those sound reasonable as paraphrases, though the first does pull in "ability" where the writer might not have intended it. Sometimes you just don't know. We can't read other people's minds.

CJ

Thank you. Now please consider the negation of sentence 2) above:

3) A vegetarian diet may not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Are the following paraphrases all correct?

~ A vegetarian diet may not be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible that a vegetarian diet doesn't provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

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Rizan Malik

Are the following paraphrases distinguishable? (paraphrases for "may")

It is possible for a vegetarian diet to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

It is possible that a vegetarian diet provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

I take it you're asking if they have different meanings.

The difference is so subtle I don't know what we'll accomplish by teasing it out, if that's even possible.

Rizan Malik

Now please consider the negation of sentence 2) above:

3) A vegetarian diet may not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Are the following paraphrases all correct?

~ A vegetarian diet may not be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible that a vegetarian diet doesn't provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

They all sound OK to me, though the middle one is a bit awkward as a sentence. But that's another topic that doesn't concern us here.

CJ

CalifJim
Rizan Malik

Now please consider the negation of sentence 2) above:

3) A vegetarian diet may not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Are the following paraphrases all correct?

~ A vegetarian diet may not be able to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible for a vegetarian diet to not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

~ It is possible that a vegetarian diet doesn't provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

They all sound OK to me, though the middle one is a bit awkward as a sentence. But that's another topic that doesn't concern us here.

CJ

I think you're talking about the "split infinitive" in that sentence. What about this:

It is possible for a vegetarian diet not to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Does this sound awkward too?


Last question:

a) Suppose I know (from experience etc) that a vegetarian diet sometimes provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

b) Suppose I know (from experience etc) that a vegetarian diet doesn't always provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.


Q: How would you say them using modal verbs like, "may", "can" etc.? Like the following?

1a) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

1b) A vegetarian diet may not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Rizan Malik

I think you're talking about the "split infinitive" in that sentence. What about this:

It is possible for a vegetarian diet not to provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Does this sound awkward too?

I read it pretty fast. That infinitive construction must have been what sounded awkward to me because now it's fine.

Rizan Malik

a) Suppose I know (from experience etc) that a vegetarian diet sometimes provides enough calories for a child's normal growth.

b) Suppose I know (from experience etc) that a vegetarian diet doesn't always provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.


Q: How would you say them using modal verbs like, "may", "can" etc.? Like the following?

1a) A vegetarian diet can provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

1b) A vegetarian diet may not provide enough calories for a child's normal growth.

Yes. Those capture the ideas in their corresponding non-modal counterparts pretty well, I'd say.

CJ

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