I learn English vocabulary and write sentences about my life using new words. But I have a problem. I can't write one sentence so that both grammar and meaning are correct.

Some context to understand what I mean:

1) I want to say that in the future I'll have a business.

2) But also I want to add a type of business which I can't say exactly so I can only guess that it's not something like a small shop or cafe. I want to add some possibility of what type of business I would set up.

If I say it in the present, I'll say like "it might be a big company" or "it mightn't be something like a cafe".

But I write about what I thought in the past.

So, I write my past story and want to say that I had some future possibility of setting up a business in the past.

I think I should use modal verbs to express possibility but how I can use them in the past tense speaking of the future time.

  • "I used to think that one day I would set up my own business, possibly X but not Y." Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 16:42
  • Thank you very much for your answering. It looks very well. I was thinking of using "would", but it seemed to me that it would be wrong. What does the word "would" mean in your example? Is there just speaking of the future? I understand that your sentence is grammatically correct but there is another option to join meanings of the words "would" and "possibly" to use one single word? Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 20:07
  • "I want to say that in the future I'll have a business." I'll means I will, so describing those plans as being made in the past it becomes I would have a business. Ideas about what kind of business it was going to be need to be in a new phrase. I can't see any other way of expressing it. Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 9:10
  • I think your question is unclear.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Here is an example:

At that time, I was thinking that I might one day start a business. It wouldn't be something like a small cafe though.

You had asked "is there another option to join meanings of the words "would" and "possibly" to use one single word?"

Yes, "might" does that.

More details:

  • Don't use "mightn't". It's not common usage. Rather, say "might not".

  • Which part is certain, and which part is uncertain? In the example sentence I wrote, starting a business is possible. It is uncertain. So, "might" was added. However, what is certain is that if the business proceeds, it won't be a small cafe. So, "wouldn't" was added. This seems like a reasonable set of assumptions. However, if there is a chance that it might be a cafe after all, then it should be switched from negative to positive, removing "not".

"It might even be a cafe, although I doubt it."

Unless... there is a strong assumption by the listener that it's going to be a cafe. Then you could say

"It might not be a cafe though."

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