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  1. You/one can get very nasty skin diseases from bathing in dirty water.

I know this is a generally true sentence. But could it refer exclusively to the future?

2 Answers 2

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No, it can't refer exclusively to the future; it's a generalisation. It can happen to anyone, and it could happen to you in the future if you're not careful.

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  • You used "could" but can I use "can" in: it can happen to you in the future if you're not careful.?
    – Mr. X
    Dec 21, 2020 at 15:56
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    It wouldn't be very idiomatic. Dec 22, 2020 at 10:03
  • Is the subject "you" in: it could happen to you in the future if you're not careful. a specific subject, not just anyone?
    – Mr. X
    Dec 22, 2020 at 13:43
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    You can be the equivalent of one, as you used it in your original sentence, or it can be thought of as a personal address to the reader. I used that sense to demonstrate the reference to the future that you asked about. Dec 22, 2020 at 13:59
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You don't have any skin diseases now but you can get some in the future if you carry on bathing in dirty water. Can means it's possible, will stresses it's inevitable.

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