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    #1

    Might or would

    Hi guys,

    I read a sentence which is "I thought they might be hungry so I gave them food" so in this sentence can "might" be replaced by "would" because I am little confused because "might" is present and we are talking about past so there should have been "might have done" instead of "might.

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    #2

    Re: Might or would

    (neither a teacher nor a native speaker of English)
    Quote Originally Posted by tufguy View Post
    Hi guys,

    I read a sentence which is "I thought they might be hungry so I gave them food" so in this sentence can "might" be replaced by "would" because I am little confused because "might" is present and we are talking about past so there should have been "might have done" instead of "might.
    If the phrase in bold is a question, then yes, it can. But this would also change the meaning of the sentence.

    As it is, the sentence is already ok with "might be". In this case it is just the past form of "may be".

    1)I think they may be hungry. -> 1a) I thought they might be hungry.
    2)I think they will be hungry. -> 2a) I thought they would be hungry.

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    #3

    Re: Might or would

    It's a question of degree:
    I thought they might be hungry = possibility
    I thought they would be hungry = I was more certain

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    #4

    Re: Might or would

    Isn't "might have done" the past form of "might", can we use "may/might have done" here.

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    #5

    Re: Might or would

    Quote Originally Posted by tufguy View Post
    Isn't "might have done" the past form of "might", can we use "may/might have done" here.
    This may be a rough description but when used with perfect infinitives, modals are usualy percieved as if they are "looking back" from the point of time previously described in the context.


    I think(now) they may/might have been(back then, in the past) hungry.
    I thought (back then, in the past) they might be(at that very same moment or in the (near) future relative to that same moment) hungry.
    I thought (back then, in the past) they might have been(even further back in the past) hungry.

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    #6

    Re: Might or would

    I went to my friend's house, rang bell four times but he didn't open door, he might have been asleep so csn we use might here(Isn't it safer to use might have done when referring to a past incident)?

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    #7

    Re: Might or would

    I went to my friend's house, rang bell four times but he didn't open door, he might have been asleep so csn we use might here(Isn't it safer to use might have done when referring to a past incident)?
    I am not sure that I know what "csn" means and, to be honest, I don't really understand some punctuation (and maybe that's why some of the intended meaning may have slipped from me). But from what I have managed to see I can still infer that the situation you have just described is a little bit different from that described at the beginning of the thread.

    Let us try to analyze your sentence. As far as I can see, there are two major parts in it. In the first one you've depicted a series of events in the past. In the second one you've described an inference based on those events. What is important here is the moment when the inference was drawn - it seems that the narrator put it in the perspective of "now" (he thinks now that it was possibly true at that moment in the past when those events took place), and that is why we may consider the use of might+perfect infinitive logical there.

    As for your question regarding the safety of using might+perfect infinitive whenever you refer to past events, I wouldn't say it is always safe.

    Let's imagine the following:

    "I allow you this, so you may enter here", said my friend.

    After a while at a police station:
    “And what did your friend say?”
    “My friend said I might enter there.”

    Would it be really safe for him to say "My friend said that I might have entered there" instead?
    Last edited by Weaver67; 06-May-2014 at 09:16.

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    #8

    Re: Might or would

    So I can say "On that day I thought that they might come but they didn't" or "I thought they might go out to play but they didn't"(I think where ever "would" can be used for the past incident "might" can be used there, I mean both are interchangable sometimes).

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