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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: May or might?

May or might? 
‘May’ is used for permission and to suggest that something is possible:

‘May I have a kiss?’
‘I may give you a kiss, if you keep your tongue in your own mouth.’

‘Might’, on the other hand, expresses a small possibility of something:

‘She might kiss you, but, seeing how ugly you are, it’s unlikely.’
‘She might have overlooked your ugly mug, if you’d shown her a little more consideration.’

Interestingly, Fowler (Fowler’s Modern English Usage) has nothing to say on this matter. So it would be correct to say:
‘Fowler may have made no mention of the topic but he might have considered it.’

Another way of looking at this one is as follows:

‘May’ relates to what is factual or possible, whereas ‘might’ is more generally used for the hypothetical.

I hope I’ve clarified rather than obscured the matter for you.

23 August 1946 Keith Moon, the wild drummer in the band, ‘The Who’, was born.

Pic: Scars on the hills in the Yorkshire Dales.
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