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What are the 'meanings' and the'differences' between following sentences:

  1. He might not be cooking.

  2. He could not be cooking.

  3. He wouldn't be cooking.

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  1. He might not be cooking.
    This shows that there's a remote posibility for him not to be cooking.
  2. He could not be cooking.
    This refers to ability. It confirms that in the continuous frame, he didn't have the ability to do so.
  3. He would not be cooking.
    This implies a present conditional situation. It's often connected with a counterfactual situation. For instance: he wouldn't be cooking (if I told him / if I wanted to, etc).
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  1. It is uncertain whether he is cooking.

"He is a really good chef, but he might not be cooking tonight. It might be his wife."

  1. It is certain he is not cooking.

"The oven is broken. He could not be cooking."

  1. Some event or circumstance stops him from cooking.

"He would't be cooking. He is lazy."

The words you show in bold would be somewhat emphasised in speech.

I am British.

  • @ Anthony Scaife,what do you mean by 3rd sentence'wouldn't be cooking, what kind of circumstances and is it imagined situation? please provide contextual examples to make me understand it. – yubraj Aug 31 '16 at 16:30

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