View Poll Results: He may have died in the accident.

Voters
1005. This poll is closed
  • This means he survived.

    268 26.67%
  • This means we don't know whether he is alive or dead.

    737 73.33%
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Thread: May\might 2

  1. #21
    Atchan is offline Key Member
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    Re: May\might 2

    He may have died in the accident.- current status unknown.

    He might have died in the accident. - current status unknown or an admonishment.

    May and might have the possibilities and degree of certainty. They have less than 50% certainty.

    So depending on your question the status is unknown.
    Last edited by Atchan; 21-Jul-2010 at 00:30.

  2. #22
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Re: May\might 2

    He may have died in the accident - possible, probability. I don`t really know
    He might have died in that accident if he hadn`t been saved in time. - If I use this sentence in this way, I understand exactly the speaker`s message

    but

    If I say:

    He might have died in that accident - the meaning or the message is quite ambiguous; the speaker must come with more explanations or , otherwise, I may understand the message in my own way: he might have died in that accident but he didn`t die because...- and I say the reason why he is still alive or, simply, I don`t know what happened to him after the accident.

    Teia

  3. #23
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: May\might 2

    There are a number of problems in all discussions about modals. These include


    • We all too often try to analyse utterances out of context.
    • There are differences between AmE and BrE usage.
    • There are some differences between younger and older speakers.
    • There is no general agreement about what is correct, acceptable or even possible in any major dialect.
    • Some people insist on assigning percentage figures to certain modals, as if they had scientific validity. They don't.
    • Some people appear to believe that their 'feelings' about how modals are used are somehow the explanation.

    I'll take one example of a problem utterance:

    If he had been driving faster, he may have died.

    To me, a sexagenarian speaker of BrE, that utterance is simply wrong. I can accept only might (given a choice between only may and might. Other modals can, of course, be used here).

    However, I see and hear more and more examples of may have used in this way, and there is little doubt that the implication is clear - he was not driving faster and he did not die; even in the hypothetical situation of his driving faster, his death was no more than a possibility. So, perhaps it is not unacceptable any longer.

  4. #24
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: May\might 2

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    He may have died.

    This can be used in either an epistemic modal manner or a deontic modal manner so either is possible. 'may' used in the latter fashion, as a deontic denoting an admonishment is a much less likely collocation than 'could' or 'might', hence we have a greater tendency to view it as "a possibility that he died".
    English verbs can be either marked for tense or modality. Expressions like deontic and epistemic might be difficult for some to understand. Deontic can be labelled as intrinsic modality i.e. agents have direct control as with permissions, obligations and volitions (intentions). Extrinsic is an epistemic modality related to assessments of liklihood such possibility, necessity and prediction.But as you pointed out sometimes intrinsic and extrinsic modalities can be expressed by the same modal verb and therefore be ambigious. Intrinsic modality has usually a human being as an agent and describes an activity (dynamnic verbs). Extrinsic modality has usually a non-human agent used with (stative) verbs. Die is a dynamic verb.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 30-Jan-2011 at 13:07.

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