# Thread: must vs might vs may

1. ## must vs might vs may

1)"Joe must have read the book."

OR

2)"Joe might have read the book."

OR

3)"Joe may have read the book."

What would be your opinion on the sentenses given below?

1) I've seen Joe reading it twenty times. So he must have read it.

2)I've seen Joe reading it, shall we say, 7 times. So he might have read it.

3) I've seen him reading it twice. So he may have read it.

2. ## Re: must vs might vs may

If you saw him reading it, even once, you just say "Joe read this book." There is zero uncertainty and no logical deductions you have to make.

Joe was quoting passage from the book and was able to discuss all the characters at great length. Although I haven't seen him with the book in his hands, Joe must have read it. (I infer he read it as the only logical conclusion.)

This seems like the type of book Joe likes. He may/might have read it.

(I don't see any difference between may and might.)

3. ## Re: must vs might vs may

1) I've seen Joe reading it twenty times. So he must have read it all.

2)I've seen Joe reading it, shall we say, 7 times. So he might have read it all.

3) I've seen him reading it twice. So he may have read it all.

I hope this helps.

c

4. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by youandcorey

1) I've seen Joe reading it twenty times. So he must have read it all.

2)I've seen Joe reading it, shall we say, 7 times. So he might have read it all.

3) I've seen him reading it twice. So he may have read it all.

I hope this helps.

c
Am I correct with it?

How would you grade them? I'd put more than 70% for must, might and could up to 45% and may less than 25%?

5. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by Barb_D
(I don't see any difference between may and might.)
That’s part of the problem Some don’t see any difference, and for others may does not really exist.For a 65-year old Southern Englishman, (i.e. me) might is very clearly less certain than may.

Originally Posted by ostap77
Am I correct with it?

How would you grade him? I'd put more than 70% for must, might and could up to 45% and may less than 25%?
It’s impossible to answer this with any degree of useful accuracy, because it varies from speaker to speaker. All we can say with some degree of confidence is that for nearly all native speakers, will is more certain than must and that both are more certain than may and might; for some speakers, may is more certain than might. I have not been very helpful, but I am not alone:

“ …the use of the modal verbs is one of the more problematic areas of English, and one of the area where many studies have been made.”
Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey and Svartik, Jan (1985) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, London: Longman

”The fact that different scholars have dealt with modals and modality is so many different ways is a clear indication of the complexity of the issues involved and of the difficulty of arriving at any completely simple and completely convincing analysis.”
Palmer, FR (1979) Modality and the English Modals (2nd edn, 1990), Harlow: Longman.

6. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by ostap77
1)"Joe must have read the book."

OR

2)"Joe might have read the book."

OR

3)"Joe may have read the book."

What would be your opinion on the sentenses given below?

1) I've seen Joe reading it twenty times. So he must have read it.

2)I've seen Joe reading it, shall we say, 7 times. So he might have read it.

3) I've seen him reading it twice. So he may have read it.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

(1) As the other posters have already told you:

I will come. = 99% certain.

I may come. = 70% (?) certain.

I might come. = 40% (?) certain.

"Might" is also a nice way to say "No."

Your boss: I am having a party. Are you coming?

You: (You do not want to go to his party, but you are

afraid to say no) Oh, thank you, sir. I do not know what

my schedule will be tonight. I might come.

*****

From your posts, I know that you are a very serious student of

English. So here is something that is very important. It even

confuses many of us native speakers.

(1) There was a mine explosion. The miners may have all died.

(2) There was a mine explosion. The miners might have all died if

help had not come in time.

My books tell me:

(1) There was an explosion. Maybe the miners are alive; maybe they

are dead. We do not know yet.

(2) There was an explosion. The miners did not die (because help

did come in time).

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

7. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by TheParser
***** NOT A TEACHER *****

(1) As the other posters have already told you:

I will come. = 99% certain.

I may come. = 70% (?) certain.

I might come. = 40% (?) certain.

"Might" is also a nice way to say "No."

Your boss: I am having a party. Are you coming?

You: (You do not want to go to his party, but you are

afraid to say no) Oh, thank you, sir. I do not know what

my schedule will be tonight. I might come.

*****

From your posts, I know that you are a very serious student of

English. So here is something that is very important. It even

confuses many of us native speakers.

(1) There was a mine explosion. The miners may have all died.

(2) There was a mine explosion. The miners might have all died if

help had not come in time.

My books tell me:

(1) There was an explosion. Maybe the miners are alive; maybe they

are dead. We do not know yet.

(2) There was an explosion. The miners did not die (because help

did come in time).

***** NOT A TEACHER *****
I would appreciate it, if you could give advice on the post "speak of/speak about".

8. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by TheParser
***** NOT A TEACHER *****

So here is something that is very important. It even

confuses many of us native speakers.

(1) There was a mine explosion. The miners may have all died.

(2) There was a mine explosion. The miners might have all died if

help had not come in time.

My books tell me:

(1) There was an explosion. Maybe the miners are alive; maybe they

are dead. We do not know yet.

(2) There was an explosion. The miners did not die (because help

did come in time).

***** NOT A TEACHER *****
Your books reflect my own usage. However, in our #1 situation, many native speakers would use might have all died.

The #2 explanation is correct, but I am increasingly reading such sentences as:

(3). If Gore had sounded less boring, he may have beaten Bush.

To me that is unacceptable. Gore did not beat Bush, and so might is required. But, if enough people are writing it, perhaps the language is changing with respect to may and might. What do others think?

9. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by fivejedjon

(3). If Gore had sounded less boring, he may have beaten Bush.

To me that is unacceptable. Gore did not beat Bush, and so might is required. But, if enough people are writing it, perhaps the language is changing with respect to may and might. What do others think?
In fact, Gore did beat Bush, but that`s altogether another story.
I agree that may is improperly used in that context and should not be considered acceptable.

10. ## Re: must vs might vs may

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
Your books reflect my own usage. However, in our #1 situation, many native speakers would use might have all died.

The #2 explanation is correct, but I am increasingly reading such sentences as:

(3). If Gore had sounded less boring, he may have beaten Bush.

To me that is unacceptable. Gore did not beat Bush, and so might is required. But, if enough people are writing it, perhaps the language is changing with respect to may and might. What do others think?
Hope I'm not driving you up the wall. So what I got from your posts is that "may" comes before "might" on a "being sure" scale. Correct?

If know that a person has been reading the book for a while so I would say 1)"He must have read the book." Correct?

Suppose I've seen him reading it for several times so I would asy

2)"He may have read the book." Correct?

If I saw him flipping over the pages so I would say

3)"He maght have read the dook." Correct?

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