In my language there is a modal verb which can be used for present possibility but in English as far as I know we have to rely on words like possibly,perhaps,maybe etc

We use the modals could, might and may to show that something is possible in the future, but not certain

And could have,might have for past possibility

But what about present possibility?

  • As you wrote "I know we have to rely on words like possibly,perhaps,maybe etc", could you add some examples using those words? That would make it easier to understand your intent.
    – user3169
    Nov 5, 2017 at 19:30
  • You can check comments on rjpond's answer
    – user64550
    Nov 6, 2017 at 4:11

1 Answer 1


The word "can" is used for present possibility.

Can you jump as high as this?

Can you do my homework for me?

I can cook dinner, if you like.

Can you stay a while?

I can't sleep.

I can either study or watch television. I'm trying to decide.

Can you sign this for me?

Of course, there are cases where "can" would be unidiomatic and we use "may" ("I won't call him now - he may be asleep") or an adverb such as "perhaps".

Although "might" is technically a past tense modal, it can also be used to describe present possibility (as well as future, as you noted):

She might love me, but I don't know for sure.

He might be out shopping.

She might be at her desk. I'll check.

It might be raining. I'll look outside and see.

Isn't it working? It might need re-charging, or it might be broken.

  • Lol no. I'm talking about present simple. For example Perhaps she loves me. It does not mean She can love me. xD xD
    – user64550
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:22
  • You can say "she might love me".
    – rjpond
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:27
  • But that would become a future tense. Wont it?
    – user64550
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:30
  • 1
    No, "might" can describe the future ("I might go shopping tomorrow") or the present ("he might be home already", "it's late - she might be asleep", "he might know the answer").
    – rjpond
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:32
  • 1
    +1. Like might, could can also describe a present possibility. It depends on the accompanying verb. He could be home by now, or he could have run into traffic.
    – TimR
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:50

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