Possibility in English
(Source: Astuti, Eka Mulya.2010. English Zone. Jakarta: PenerbitErlangga.)
Ø Possible (adjective): if something is possible, it can be done. E. g.: the only possible way of getting your money back is to go to the police.
Ø As soon/ quickly as possible, e.g. : please let me know your answer as soon as possible.
Ø Everything possible, e.g.: the government did everything possible to recover it.
Ø Can be done: if something can be done, it is possible to do it. e.g.: I’m sure that more could be done to recover the economy.
Ø Possibility (noun): one of the things that you could try to do, e.g.: one possibility is that we could offer him some help.
Ø Possible (adjective): if something is possible, there is a chance that it may happen or it may be true, e.g.: accidents are always possible in heavy industries like mining.
Ø Possibility (noun): something that can happen or may happen, e.g.: we could not ignore the possibility of mass movement against the decision.
Ø There is a chance/ there is a possibility- use this to say that it is possible that something will happen, e.g.: is there any possibility that this country will recover from the economic down turn?
Ø Verb that come before possible: be, seem, become, make something. e.g.: new technology has made it possible to communicate more easly.
Ø Adjective that collocate with possibility: interesting, many, only, further, new, different, various, future, good, real, reasonable, great, serious, strong. e.g.: there is strong possibility that it will rain today.
Ø Verb that come before possibility: create, offer, suggest, see, consider, discuss, examine, explore, accept, admit, ignore, deny, eliminate, exclude, risk, face, e.g.: we don’t want to risk the possibility of losing all your money.
1) “May, might, and could” are used to express a weak degree of certainty (less than 50% sure).
Ø Why doesn’t he pay his income tax?
Ø He may boycott the tax payment.
Ø He might boycott the tax payment.
Ø He could boycott the tax payment.
2) in expressing present time negative, “couldn’t and can’t” express 99% sure while “may not and might not” express less than 50% sure.
Ø He couldn’t / can’t boycott the tax payment. That’s impossible. He surely doesn’t want to risk the possibility of being dismissed from his office.
Ø I don’t know why he doesn’t pay his income tax. He may not/ might not boycott the tax payment. Or maybe he forgets it. Or perhaps he doesn’t tell us. Who knows?
3) In expressing past time, “may have Verb 3, might have Verb 3, and could have verb 3” express less than 50% sure; while “could not have Verb 3” express 99% sure; “may not have Verb 3” and might not have verb3” express less than 50% sure.
Ø He may have boycotted the tax payment. (the speaker is mentioning one possibility)
Ø He might have boycotted the tax payment. (the speaker is mentioning one possibility)
Ø He could have boycotted the tax payment. (the speaker is mentioning one possibility)
Ø He could have boycotted the tax payment. (the speaker believes that it was imposible for him to boycott the tax)
4) In expressing future time, “may, might, and could” express less than 50% sure.
Ø He may boycott the tax payment. (the speaker is guessing)
Ø He might boycott the tax payment. (the speaker is guessing)
Ø He could boycott the tax payment. (the speaker is guessing)
Example the dialogs below to show possibilities.
1) Dialog 1
Adi : where are you going this coming holiday?
Badi : I don’t know yet. I might go to Bali, but I might not go anywhere.
2) Dialog 2
Sukri : who are you going to invite to your birthday party?
Samir : I haven’t decided yet. I may all classmates, but I may not invite Hengky (08)
3) Dialog 3
Kardjo : which hand phone will Sarah buy tomorrow?
Susi : she isn’t sure. She might buy the latest tablet, but she might not like the size. (09)
4) Dialog 4
Bayu : what are you going to do to support the campaign?
Jarno : I’m not sure yet. I might to do demonstration, but my father might not allow me to do (10)
5) Dialog 5
Iwuk : what are you going to do this Saturday night?
Vani : I might go to Surabaya, but I might not go anywhere.
Using “I don’t know+ may/might/ could”
Ø This is the sweetest song I’ve ever heard. Who sings it? I don’t know I might be demon.
Ø Her shoes look great. Where did she buy them? I don’t know. It may be in Barata Shop.
Ø The exam is brought forward. Are we going to have a longer holiday? I don’t know, I may be study.
Ø Our English teacher looks great. How old is he/ she? I don’t know, he might be discipline.
Ø He said his house has a green fence, but we can’t find it yet. It is possible that he gave us a false address? I don’t know, it might be in other regional.
Ø This film review is awesome. When do you think the film will show here? I don’t know, it may be in famous place.
Ø Look at my bag! What do you think I have in my bag? I don’t know, it may be beautiful bag.
Ø The facebook campaign seems promising. Are you signing up? I don’t know, it might be in other campaign.
Using “I don’t know+ may/ might/ could have Verb 3”
Ø Ratna was absent yesterday. What happened to her? I don’t know. She might have been sick or she could have been to lazy to go to school.
Ø I called her house but no one answered the phone. Where did she go? I don’t know, she might have been in other place or she might have been sick.
Ø Lucia looked so weary this morning. What happened to her? I don’t know, she might have been work hard or she have been to sick this morning.
Ø My computer kept crashing when I signed in facebook yesterday. What could be the cause? I don’t know, It may have been eror or it may have been virus of computer in your computer.
Ø The biology teacher came to class so late yesterday. Do you know why? I don’t know, he might have been busy or he might have been sick to class.
Ø I failed my mathematic test last week. I did study and thought I could pass. What could be wrong? I don’t know, you might have been tired or you might have been to lazy to do mathematic test.
Ø Tommy walked into the class with red eyes. What happened to him? I don’t know, he might have been sick or he might to tired into the class.
Ø I heard two persons screaming and yelling when I passed that house yesterday. What could have happened? I don’t know they may have been problems or they may have been conflict in that house.
Ø Gerry returned home from his trip with dark skin and a temporary tattoo on his back. Where did he go? I don’t know, Gery might have been returned from Bali or Gerry might have been go to Banjarmasin.