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Hi, Navi. I'd like to share my thoughts with you:

@navi posted:

1) It would have been possible for Tom to enter the building. I don't know if he did or not.

This sounds to me as a counterfactual (it would have been possible for him, but he didn´t). However, if I compare it with:

1a) Tom could have entered the building.

it might be the case that he did or not depending on whether there is no condition or there is one:

1a1) A. Did he enter the building? // B. He could have. (50% certainty, or less, according to Chart 10.6 Degrees of Certainty: Past Time on page 196 of Azar & Hagen's Understanding and Using English Grammar).

1a2) It's a pity Tom didn't have the keys. He could have entered the building (if he had had the keys). (He did not enter the building.)

@navi posted:

2) It would be possible for Tom to enter the building. I don't know if he did or not.

I see this as part of a narration, the result of the past possibility being uncertain at that point in the narration: Tom had a plan. (He thought) It would be possible for him to enter the building (= He could enter the building). He only had to wait until the chance came up.

@navi posted:

3) It was possible for Tom to enter the building. I don't know if he did or not.

This can be equivalent to (2), the only difference being that, in this case, there is no reporting of a future possibility. The statement is presented as a past possibility.

However, it can also be interpreted as: He was able to enter the building.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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