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Consider this sentence, please:

1) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it could get it under control.

2) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it might get it under control.

What is the difference between 1) and 2)?

In general, What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?

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Rizan MalikIn general, What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?

No difference.

CJ

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CalifJim
Rizan MalikIn general, What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?

No difference.

CJ

Q1: Do you mean sentences 1) and 2) mean the same thing in the OP?

Q2: Can I say that "could" and "might" are both hypothetical in the OP, and that both of them suggest something like, "we could/might if we were willing to take the necessary steps (which perhaps we aren't)."

Rizan MalikQ1: Do you mean sentences 1) and 2) mean the same thing in the OP?

Yes.

Rizan MalikQ2: Can I say that "could" and "might" are both hypothetical in the OP, and that both of them suggest something like, "we could/might if we were willing to take the necessary steps (which perhaps we aren't)."

No. They both mean 'maybe'.

The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but maybe they will get it under control.

CJ

CalifJim
Rizan MalikQ1: Do you mean sentences 1) and 2) mean the same thing in the OP?

Yes.

Rizan MalikQ2: Can I say that "could" and "might" are both hypothetical in the OP, and that both of them suggest something like, "we could/might if we were willing to take the necessary steps (which perhaps we aren't)."

No. They both mean 'maybe'.

The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but maybe they will get it under control.

CJ

OK. Consider one more sentence, please:

1) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it can get it under control. (A statement by Dr Anthony Fauci)

2) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it could get it under control. (It's mine)

3) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it might get it under control. (It's mine)

Q1) Doesn't sentence 2) a more hypothetical version of sentence 1) and not mean "maybe"?

Q2) Would you still say that "could" and "might" mean the same thing in 2) and 3)?

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Rizan MalikQ1) Doesn't Isn't sentence 2) a more hypothetical version of sentence 1) and not mean "maybe"?

I don't sense anything hypothetical here. What is the hypothesis? What are we supposing to be true for the sake of argument? There's no "if" or "supposing" as a mark of a hypothesis.

Rizan MalikQ2) Would you still say that "could" and "might" mean the same thing in 2) and 3)?

Yes.

The world [might / could] get the virus under control.
[It's possible that / Maybe] the world [will / will be able to] get the virus under control.

They all sound the same to me.

CJ

CalifJim
Rizan MalikQ1) Doesn't Isn't sentence 2) a more hypothetical version of sentence 1) and not mean "maybe"?

I don't sense anything hypothetical here. What is the hypothesis? What are we supposing to be true for the sake of argument? There's no "if" or "supposing" as a mark of a hypothesis.

Rizan MalikQ2) Would you still say that "could" and "might" mean the same thing in 2) and 3)?

Yes.

The world [might / could] get the virus under control.
[It's possible that / Maybe] the world [will / will be able to] get the virus under control.

They all sound the same to me.

CJ

OK. Last question:

1) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it can (=will be able to) get it under control.

2) The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it could (=would be able to) get it under control.

(would be able to is more hesitant/tentative than will be able to.)

Q: Isn't this the difference between 1) and 2)?

Rizan MalikQ: Isn't this the difference between 1) and 2)?

Under one interpretation of 'could', yes.

However:
1) That wasn't an interpretation suggested by the original question.
2) That interpretation doesn't fit the context.

1) Your question: What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?

You've more or less changed horses in midstream. Now you're not talking about the possibility meaning of 'could' anymore. You're talking about the ability meaning.

2) Even though 'could' can often be paraphrased as 'would be able to', that paraphrase is not by any means the first that comes to mind if we read

The world may never eradicate coronavirus, but it could get it under control.

The tense matching doesn't suggest the 'would be able' meaning here. For that you need to imagine what we might say 10 years from now, looking back at this time of the pandemic. We might say:

In 2020 scientists saw no way to eradicate corona virus, but they thought that with new therapies they probably [could / would be able to] get it under control, and in the summer of 2021, they finally did.

CJ

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CalifJim
Rizan MalikQ: Isn't this the difference between 1) and 2)?

Under one interpretation of 'could', yes.

However:
1) That wasn't an interpretation suggested by the original question.
2) That interpretation doesn't fit the context.

1) Your question: What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?

You've more or less changed horses in midstream. Now you're not talking about the possibility meaning of 'could' anymore. You're talking about the ability meaning.

1) My question: What's the difference between "might" and "could" when it comes to talking about a possibility?


The two example sentences in the OP are "maybe" sentences and in an earlier thread you said in this meaning, "could" and "might" are always interchangeable. But can they be paraphrased with "maybe" in every context where they both suggest a possibility?

In an earlier thread you also said, "could = would be able to = it would be possible for someone to (in some contexts)".

So in my second question in the OP (or 1) above), I wanted a comparison between "might" (which almost always suggests "possibility") and "could" (= it would be possible for someone to; which suggests "possibility"). I think I should have made this clear in the OP.

Consider these sentences, please:

1) I can (= it is possible for me to) travel in July because my exams will definitely be finished at the beginning of that month. (strong possibility)

2) I could (= it would be possible for me to) travel in July because my exams will probably be finished at the beginning of that month. (weak possibility)

3) I might (= maybe I will) travel in July because my exams will probably be finished at the beginning of that month.

Are "might" and "could" interchangeable in 2) and 3) or do they suggest different possibilities?

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