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1) Anyone could get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

2) Anyone might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.


Are they both general statements about possibility that do not refer to any particular time, ie, true for any and all time?

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Rizan Malik

1) Anyone could get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

2) Anyone might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

Are they both general statements about possibility that do not refer to any particular time, ie, true for any and all time?

They sound to me more like ways of excusing someone who bathed in dirty water and got a nasty skin disease from it. It is as if the speaker is saying, "Well, what happened to you could/might have happened to anybody, so don't feel like yours is an unusual case".

However, they do make statements that don't refer to any particular time and that are generally true, even though I don't see this as the central message of those statements.

CJ

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But what if we talk about specific people:

3) John could get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

4) I could get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

5) John might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

6) I might get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.


Are these statements limited in time, or are these also statements that are true for any and all times?

Rizan Malikwhat if we talk about specific people

Then you don't have a general statement anymore.

Rizan MalikAre these statements limited in time, or are these also statements that are true for any and all times?

Those statements apply only to the subject of the sentence in the limited circumstances specifically mentioned in the sentence. But the sentences are anomalous because they are phrased to make us think they are "true for all times". Once part of the sentence is as specific as "John" or "I", we expect the rest of it to be equally specific.

I might get a very nasty skin disease if I bathe in that dirty water.

CJ

7) I/John () get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.


So of these modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, which one can I use (maybe "can" or "will"??) in a sentence like the above, which talks about specific people and the rest of which has a general meaning?


Can I use "can" or "will" in the sentence below, (might and could can be used, as you said)?

8) I/John () get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in that dirty water.

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Rizan Malik

7) I/John () get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

So of these modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, which one can I use (maybe "can" or "will"??) in a sentence like the above, which talks about specific people and the rest of which has a general meaning?

The contradiction between general and specific can't be fixed by changing the modal verb. In other words, you can use any of those modal verbs you suggested above if your requirement is simply to have a grammatical sentence, but it won't remove the relevant contradiction.

Rizan Malik

Can I use "can" or "will" in the sentence below, (might and could can be used, as you said)?

8) I/John () get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in that dirty water.

Yes. Those are possible.

CJ

CalifJim
Rizan Malik

7) I/John () get a very nasty skin disease from bathing in dirty water.

So of these modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, which one can I use (maybe "can" or "will"??) in a sentence like the above, which talks about specific people and the rest of which has a general meaning?

The contradiction between general and specific can't be fixed by changing the modal verb. In other words, you can use any of those modal verbs you suggested above if your requirement is simply to have a grammatical sentence, but it won't remove the relevant contradiction.

CJ

But sometimes it's not a contraction:

a) I can drive a car.

b) I'm not interested in driving a car right now. But in the future I may drive one (a car).

Am I right?

Rizan MalikBut sometimes it's not a contraction: contradiction:

I don't think you meant 'contraction'. That's like "you're" and "don't" (with apostrophes).

Rizan MalikAm I right?

Yes. Sometimes sentences contain contradictory elements, and sometimes they don't.

CJ

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