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Dear Friends,

Could anyone please let me know which two of the four sentences given below are correct.

1) Which terrorist group could have set the bomb off?

2) Which terrorist group could set the bomb off?

Considerng that the explosion has already taken place.

1) That was the best salary I could have had at the time.

2) That was the best salary I could have at the time.

Talking about the salary of my first job which I got 6 years ageo.

Please help me.

Best Regards,

Sabya
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SabyakgpDear Friends,

Could anyone please let me know which two of the four sentences given below are correct.

1) Which terrorist group could have set the bomb off? OK

2) Which terrorist group could set the bomb off? dubious

Considerng that the explosion has already taken place.

1) That was the best salary I could have had at the time.OK

2) That was the best salary I could have at the time.OK

Talking about the salary of my first job which I got 6 years ageo.

Please help me.

Best Regards,

Sabya
Hi,
I'm supposed to be an expert on this stuff, I should have a degree in "could and might engineering", LOL. However, I'm not so good at coulds and mights, actually. But I can try:

Which terrorist group could have set the bomb off? <--- this is the one you want.

That was the best salary I could have at the time. <--- this is probably the one you want. It depends on what exactly you want to say.
That was the best salary I could have had at the time.<--- no, this refers to a salary you never got.

I hope it makes sense, I don't have that degree yet. Emotion: smile
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Hi,

I could be wrong but the sentence "That was the best salary I could have had at the time." I think the underlined part is in present perfect and to use a present perfect with a somewhat precise time reference, which in this case is 'at the time', makes it awkward, if not wrong. Of course, Pieanne seemed to have said 'okay' and that kind of nudges me to take a very cautious stance on this issue. Hope Pieanne or others can tell me more.
Thanks pieanne,Kooyeen and Believer .
But I am bit confused now.

According to pieanne:

"Which terrorist group could have set the bomb off" OK,

Is it because that we are not sure whether any terrorist group set off the bomb or not? (Here we are using "Could" to express the possibility).

"Which terrorist group could set the bomb off? dubious"

Can you please suggest what went wrong with this sentence?

In this way:

"That was the best salary I could have had at the time." OK

Is "Could have had" legitimate here because this sentence expressed only a possibility? (I was not sure whether that was the best salary or not, it was just a guess)

"That was the best salary I could have at the time." OK

I guess by using "Could" I am stating that I was quite sure that that was the best salary which I deserved. Is my assumption correct?

According to Kooyeen:

That was the best salary I could have at the time. <--- this is probably the one you want. It depends on what exactly you want to say. (Can you please expalin this)
That was the best salary I could have had at the time. <--- no, this refers to a salary you never got.
(I guess "Could" can be used for expressing Possibility (in addition to expressing past ability) so It's possible (but not certain) that I got the best salary).

Basically, I am really confused as to whether should I use "Would" or "Could" as per as expressing possibility is concerned.

For Example :

A Terrorist group would have set off the bomb. (We are not certain but it's likely that a terrorist group set off the bomb)

A Terrorist group could have set off the bomb. (What is the difference between this sentence and the above one?).

If there is no difference between the two sentences, can I assume that either "Could" or "Would" can be used to express the possibility of an event?

My reply seems to be very long and I am not sure if I have stipulated my points too, but I am really confused as to how to differentiate between "Could" and "Would" (as per as expressing possibility is concerned) please help me.
Let me first talk about the first set of examples.

"Which terrorist group could have set the bomb off" : the bomb has exploded, and you're wondering which terrorist group, among all those you know, could be responsible for the attempt, that is "could have set the bomb off". "Have set off" is a past infinitive (not a present perfect), and shows that the "setting the bomb off" occered in the past.

"Which terrorist group could set the bomb off?" I said it was dubious, because it first mean that the bomb hasn't exploded yet - no past infinitive -. Maybe it could mean "Which terrorist group would have the nerve to make such an attempt?", that is you don't think a terrorist group could be responsible for it.

(But I may be wrong!)
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As to the second set of examples:

1) "That was the best salary I could have had at the time." I read it as a past conditional a conditional, but I have to say, the more I read it, the more I find it wrong and the more I think Koyeen is right! (sorry, I read too fast the first time)

2) "That was the best salary I could have at the time." It's the past simple of "can", and is quite correct
Thanks pieanne. Can you please explain my another doubt?

Basically, I am really confused as to whether should I use "Would" or "Could" as per as expressing possibility is concerned.

For Example :

A Terrorist group would have set off the bomb. (We are not certain but it's likely that a terrorist group set off the bomb)

A Terrorist group could have set off the bomb. (What is the difference between this sentence and the above one?).

If there is no difference between the two sentences, can I assume that either "Could" or "Would" can be used to express the possibility of an event?
A Terrorist group would have set off the bomb. (We are not certain On the contrary, we are certain. but it's likely that a terrorist group set off the bomb) There's an implicit condition: if they had had the opportunity to do so.


A Terrorist group could have set off the bomb. (What is the difference between this sentence and the above one?). This one is ambiguous. They had the opportunity/ability to set off the bomb or it's possible that they did set off the bomb.


You can combine the two:


If they could have set off the bomb, they would have set it off. =
If they had had the opportunity to set off the bomb, they (certainly) would have done it.


CJ
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