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If I had missed the train, we might not have met.

If I had missed the train, we could not have met.

Is there any difference between these sentences?

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1 Answer 1

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Yes, there is a difference

If I had missed the train, we might not have met.

If I had missed the train, it's possible that we might have met at a different time and place than we did because I caught the train.

If I had missed the train, we could not have met.

If I had missed the train, it would have been impossible for us to meet under any other circumstances.

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    I think you're reading into it to suggest that the meeting might have taken place at some other time or place. All that is entailed is that they might not have met.
    – TimR
    Apr 11 at 13:00
  • @TimR: It's implied (not entailed) by we might not have met that we might have met (both alternatives are feasible). Which Dale correctly contrasts in context here with we could not have met (no alternative possibilities). Apr 11 at 21:29
  • @FumbleFingers I don't think so. If I hadn't broken my leg, I might not have met the doctor who set the bone doesn't imply that I might have met that doctor at a cocktail party or at some other place. It doesn't rule out the possibility but it doesn't suggest anything about the probability, and might expresses possibility where there are no prohibitive conditions. We can't paraphrase that sentence as If I hadn't broken my leg, I might have met the doctor who set the bone under other circumstances.
    – TimR
    Apr 12 at 10:06
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    I don't understand your point. If I hadn't broken my leg, I might not have met the doctor who set the bone strongly implies the speaker is glad to have met the doctor, irrespective of the need to have a bone set (perhaps he became a valued close friend). Crucially, that phrasing leaves open the possibility (weakly implies) that they might have met under some other circumstances. Where ...I wouldn't have met him only weakly denies the possibility of meeting elsewhere, but ...I couldn't have met him emphatically denies any possible alternative chance of meeting. Apr 12 at 10:35

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