Please share your thoughts about the following.

I am having trouble understanding why almost everyone here https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/245059/correct-modal-verb chooses "could". One guy has suggested to ask here also.

It is possible for John to shift to architecture. John (should/could/must/might) shift to architecture.

So there are four options to choose from, please share your thoughts about why the 3 of them are not suitable and why 1 of them is the best answer.


What confuses me is the preference of "could" over "might". A guy from the other forum mentioned that if it still confuses me, I should ask here.

  • I think you should edit your existing question on ELU and ask for clarification. Starting over on ELL seems counterproductive and precludes possible continued conversation where you started it.
    – user6951
    May 10, 2015 at 1:19
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the OP asked the question on ELU and has a conversation over there that he or she is apparently abandoning.
    – user6951
    May 10, 2015 at 1:22
  • Edit your question over there at ELU and ask for clarification.
    – user6951
    May 10, 2015 at 1:23
  • To be fair, this user was directed to ELL by an ELU veteran, who wrote: "If you're still having trouble understanding how possible is used in the two different senses of probability/likelihood and ability/capacity, I think you should ask again on English Language Learners. It's not really what ELU is all about."
    – user230
    May 10, 2015 at 1:24
  • What's more, the ELU question has been closed as off-topic, with all 5 close voters suggesting it be asked over here. I think it's fine leaving this question open, but perhaps the question could be elaborated a little to make it clearer what's confusing the OP.
    – user230
    May 10, 2015 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


It is possible for John to shift to architecture.

Let's take them one by one:

  1. John should shift to architecture. This assumes that shifting to architecture is possible, but what it actually says is that shifting is recommended or desirable.

  2. John could shift to architecture. This means that shifting to architecture is an option open to John which he is able to take if he wants to. That's essentially what your ‘base’ sentence means, too.

  3. John must shift to architecture. This means that John has no choice: he is required to shift to architecture. Again, it assumes that shifting is possible.

  4. John might shift to architecture. Like #2, this addresses possibility; but it is about the possibility that John will in fact shift to architecture. Neither #2 nor the base sentence says anything about John's intention, as this one does.

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