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- If what I hear is true, they might not have gone too far.

- If what I hear is true, they wouldn't have gone too far.


Hi:

Do they mean the thing or more or less the same thing? I think that they both mean that the speaker thinks it's possible that they haven't gone too far; there is a possibility that they still can be caught. Am I correct, please, about what I think of the two sentences?


Thank you!

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Where did you find these sentences? Please give some context.

My friend just lost her dogs Pico and Whittier near the corner of Lincoln and Washington Someone left the gate open this morning. Pico is brown & he’s 5. Whittier is black. They are father and son and are always together.

They’re scared of cars so we’re thinking they might not have gone too far.

They’re scared of cars so we’re thinking they wouldn't have gone very far.

These two mean about the same. Notice the change in adverbs.

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Although each context has its own characteristics that should be taken into account, in the general case I hear "would (not) have" as more definite (certain) in the mind of the speaker than "might (not) have". This effect is more pronounced in the affirmative than in the negative.

1) Under a previous offer, victims would have been paid about $349,000.
2) Under a previous offer, victims might have been paid about $349,000.

In 1) the speaker is nearly certain about the amount of the payment and about the fact that all the victims were paid an amount near $349,000.
In 2) the speaker is guessing that maybe any particular victim was paid about $349,000, or maybe paid some other amount. Here 'might' sounds more like 'could' than like 'would' to my ear.

CJ