Student or Learner
"I might should have done it a long time ago"
Is it a version of "should have"? Why would one put might before should? In order to make it less obligatory?
That's not correct. You can use either should or might, but not both, because they contradict each other.
Should means "must." In other words, when people say to you that you should have done it, it simply means that they expected you to do it.
On the other hand, might means "may." When people say to you that you might have done it, it simply means that you could have done it.
Might and should are never used at the same time.
"I might have done it a long time ago" means that you are not certain that you actually have done it and forgotten about it, or it could also mean that whatever is in question could possibly have been done by you in your youth, but now because you are older and wiser, you would not do it any more.
"I should have done it a long time ago" means that there is something you still need to do, are possibly obliged to do, but have not done so yet.
I am not a teacher.
I see. You said you were watching TV when you heard that expression being used. You see, in dialogues, it is acceptable to see something like this. However, you wrote it incorrectly. It must have been:
"I might...should have done it a long time ago."
Actually, I was going to say it is indeed active as colloquial speech, especially in the American South.
It's a bit of a mixture - maybe I'll do it, I probably should, I probably will... there's a vagueness to it.
I might should wander on down to the creek, see if the fish are biting tonight.
We might should try to get to the 8 am church service tomorrow if we're going to try to get to Susie's for that picnic at noon.
You might should ask Harry about that. He'll be the one with the whole story.
Was something like that about what the person was saying?
EDIT: Oh, look what I found! (I added the bold to emphasize it.) - source: http://www.answers.com/topic/might
Our Living Language In many Southern U.S. varieties of English, might can be paired with other auxiliary verbs such as could, as in We might could park over there. Words like might and could are known as modals, since they express certain "moods" (for example, I might go indicates an uncertain mood on the part of the speaker). Combinations such as might could, might would, and might can are known as double modals. Other less common combinations include may can, may will, and might should. Since double modals typically begin with may or might, they lessen the degree of conviction or certainty (much like the word possibly) more than a single modal does. Double modals are used, for example, to minimize the force of what one is saying, as when asking someone for a favor or when indicating displeasure. • Although double modals may sound odd outside of the South, they carry little if any social stigma within the South and are used by speakers of all social classes and educational levels-even in formal instances like political addresses. Like many features of Southern varieties of English, the use of double modals is probably due to the fact that many of the first English speakers in the South were Scotch-Irish, whose speech made use of double modals. This feature has been noted as far back as the Middle English period, but today's most common forms were not used to any great extent until the mid-18th century. They are surprisingly rare in dialect fiction but do occasionally occur, as in Old Yeller by Fred Gipson: "Jumper's liable to throw a fit with that hide rattling along behind him, and you might not can hold him by yourself."
Last edited by Barb_D; 27-Sep-2010 at 20:43.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
In the UK, such usage is so rare, that most people are unaware of it and would assume it was either an error or a reformulation.