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    #1

    let versus may

    I know that in the Bible we can read "Let there be light", now I wonder, would there be a different meaning if it were "May there be light"?

    Or some other examples made up by me.

    Let there be a lot of happy people on the Earth! - May there be a lot of happy people on the Earth!

    Do you feel any difference between LET and MAY in those contexts?

  1. Champleon's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: let versus may

    The use of "may" in that context would be formal.

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: let versus may

    I am not a teacher.

    I find the use of may strange here, exacerbated by the familiarity of 'Let there be light'.
    I feel that 'May there be light' expresses a strong desire whilst the original is a command that cannot be gone against.

    @Champleon. Just out of curiosity, which end of your teaching career are you at? Your member info says you're retired and your signature says you're not one yet, so which is it?

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    #4

    Re: let versus may

    "May" is used when asking permission. God is clearly not asking anyone for permission for there to be light.

    I have read that the Hebrew here is a command. "Light!"

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    #5

    Re: let versus may

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    "May" is used when asking permission. God is clearly not asking anyone for permission for there to be light.

    I have read that the Hebrew here is a command. "Light!"

    I don't think that "may" here is the one which conveys a permission. "May God bless you!" Do you think that "may" here implies permission? On whose part?

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    #6

    Re: let versus may

    In "May God bless you" the person is asking God to bless. With His permission.

    In "May there be light" the "may" expresses either asking for permission or some sense of uncertainty. ("There may be light" is uncertain.) Neither is appropriate for God giving a command that light shall be.

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