The dangerous world of can and could.

Did the English prince really have sex with a teenage sex slave? That is the issue facing the UK public as we move into 2015. In order to add extra weight to the allegation we find this headline in a UK paper “Prince could face police investigation”. Looks bad for the prince doesn’t it. But not when you understand that “could” and “can” mean nothing. I “could” have a heart attack today. You “could” be murdered tomorrow but the chances of this happening are so remote as to be virtually impossible. It does however make a good headline fully conforming with that old journalists saying “never let the truth spoil a good story” .
A rather different spin comes from the anti EU press in the UK which again deliberately misinterprets an EU decisions. Thus, the idea that obesity “can” be a disability is laughed at as absurd. Whereas, as we know, in some cases obesity can be caused by illness and not by a lack of will power. These “modal verbs” offer great subtlety but are an easy way to trap those whose command of English is not so good. Unfortunately that includes many English.

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2 thoughts on “The dangerous world of can and could.”

  1. I agree about what you’re saying about obesity. Some people can’t help it, and they try everything they can. The reason people think obesity occures after a lot of eating, is because the number is too god damn high. I overheared something about 50% of all adult americans are overweight. The funny thing is.. they all blame genetics!

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