I would like to know if both of the following are correct, especially if the 2 is correct.

We are talking about the possibility that that task may be assigned to me

  1. That task could be very well assigned to me
  2. That task could be well assigned to me
  • 8
    The task could well be assigned to me, is probably what you meant. – Masked Man Nov 14 '13 at 15:16
  • 5
    Yes, in both cases the common phrasing is “...could (very) well be...”. It's the “could be” that expresses the possibility, and the “well” or “very well” modifies “be” to communicate an increase in certainty that the possibility will come to be. Hopefully someone with a more nuanced sense of the grammar in play will give you a full-fledged answer. – Tyler James Young Nov 14 '13 at 15:50
  • Yes, definitely move well and very well before be. – snailplane Nov 14 '13 at 19:26
  • The use of could be suggests that the task may be assigned to you. What about the third possibility - Well, the task could be assigned to me. This seems better to me. – Maulik V Nov 15 '13 at 4:55
  • 2
    @MaulikV Your example uses well as a discourse marker, so the sentence doesn't have the same meaning. – snailplane Nov 15 '13 at 14:36

They are not correct as written--well, they are actually grammatically correct--but it's just a minor syntax issue that misconstrues the meaning. As you've written them, they, in reality, mean something different from what you'd intended to say, which I'll explain in a bit.

As the commentators have suggested so far, it should read more like this:

That task could very well be very well assigned to me

That task could well be well assigned to me.

First of all, yes, you absolutely can omit very. It's just an intensifier, and intensifiers are only required for emphasis. When you remove very, you make the likelihood less certain. But it's still grammatically correct.

Second, in these examples, as you seem to be aware, well is the equivalent of definition number 10b under the adverbial definition. In this source, it's definition number 4b.

Now, as for the way these sentences were originally constructed, that would mean that it'd be a wise choice to assign the task to that person.

That task would [could] be [very] well (i.e., properly) assigned to me.

In the first set of examples, well means likely or possibly. In my last example, it means that it'd be a good decision to assign the task to that person.

All of these are examples of speculation in the subjunctive mood.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.