What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

could have known VS may have known

hirashin

Sempai
Donor
Joined
8 Apr 2004
Messages
2,717
Reaction score
55
I think (a) and (b) have almost the same meaning, but how about (c)?
(a) He may have known that fact.
(b) He might have known that fact.
(c) He could have known that fact.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 
Joined
5 May 2013
Messages
880
Reaction score
351
I think (a) and (b) have almost the same meaning, but how about (c)?
(a) He may have known that fact.
(b) He might have known that fact.
(c) He could have known that fact.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
(a) feels entirely wrong. I think it maybe okay in antiquated language or maybe non-American dialects, but it's not normal speech for the American dialect. (b) and (c) are both fine and I'd have trouble describing what is different between them.

I guess, if we already know that he *didn't* know, then (b) expresses that we didn't know until we checked whether or not he knew, while (c) expresses that if the situation had been different, it would have been possible for him to know.

In the (probably more normal?) case that we still don't know what he knew, the two are almost indistinguishable.

In all cases, the normal sentence would be 'He ___ have known.' or 'He ___ have known that.'

'He ___ have known that fact' in itself feels like a textbook example substituting in for something like 'He could have known that she was a spy' (or whatever other 'He ___ have known that ___' sentence where the second blank is an independent clause that he may/might/could have known.)
 

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,311
Reaction score
778
All three are fine for me and have the same meaning/nuance.
 
Top Bottom