“It could/might/may be funny” — what is the correct usage?

What is the difference in meaning in these three sentences?

it might be funny
it could be funny
it may be funny

The answer was partially touched on in this post.


All three phrases indicate that the source (the person who is speaking or writing the sentence) does not find the subject (it) very funny. The subtle differences between the three are all about tense (either present or future) and degree of confidence.

  1. It might be funny
    Low confidence, present or future tense:
    In this context, the word might indicates either: (1) a small chance that the subject is funny, or (2) a small chance that it will be funny in the future. If the second meaning is intended, it would normally be followed by a condition of some sort: “It might be funny if…”

  2. It may be funny
    Medium confidence, present or future tense:
    This phrase is very similar to the first one, except that it implies a greater chance that the subject is funny or will be funny in the future. Without any context, I would interpret this to mean: “It is possible that someone else would find it funny.”

  3. It could be funny
    High confidence, future tense:
    This phrase absolutely refers to the future. Two things are being said: (1) The subject, in its current form, is not funny. (2) There is a good chance of it becoming funny, as long as something changes. “It could be funny, as long as no one is offended.”

Source : Link , Question Author : Anderson Silva , Answer Author : RegDwigнt

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