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  1. Savardther
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    #1

    Ms

    Could you please tell me what the difference between Might and May?
    Thank you.


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 150
    #2

    Re: Ms

    There are those who say that may expresses likelihood (we may go to the dance) while might expresses a stonger sense of doubt (we might go to the dance if we don't have to work late). If there is some potential for confusion, use might if you mean "maybe" and may if you mean "allowed to."


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #3

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by Savardther View Post
    Could you please tell me what the difference between Might and May?
    Thank you.
    These two are modal verbs. In English, modal verbs do two jobs. They have epistemic [level of certainty] meanings and deontic [social] meanings. The core meanings are epistemic and many of the deontic/social meanings derive from the epistemic or level of certainty standings of these modals.

    When you discuss modals, you have to be clear on which meaning you intend.

    'may' and 'might' occupy the lower range of certainty with 'might' being weaker, epistemically, than 'may'. Look at this range below. It describes the certainty range for modals.

    [Note that modals can be modified by "semi-modals/periphrastic modals" [eg probably or likely] to reduce or expand their level of certainty]

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    100% certainty in speaker's mind - He will win first prize.

    90-99% certainty in speakers's mind - He almost certainly will win first prize.

    51-89% certainty in speaker's mind - He should win first prize. [this 'should' is equal to a "probably/likely will"]

    26-50% certainty in speaker's mind - He may win first prize.

    1-25% certainty in speaker's mind - He might win first prize.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    As we can see, 'might' is epistemically weaker than 'may. This carries over into the deontic/social meanings.

    "Might I borrow a pen?" is more polite, more deferential than, "May I borrow a pen?" because of might's weaker epistemic meaning.



    For a further discussion on modal strength, see also, "The epistemic would", at

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/g...mic-would.html
    Last edited by riverkid; 15-Sep-2006 at 03:52.


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 3
    #4

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by river View Post
    There are those who say that may expresses likelihood (we may go to the dance) while might expresses a stonger sense of doubt (we might go to the dance if we don't have to work late). If there is some potential for confusion, use might if you mean "maybe" and may if you mean "allowed to."
    Thank you so much for your interesting reply.


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 3
    #5

    Re: Ms

    Thank you so much for your extensive reply. Much appreciated!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by savardther View Post
    Thank you so much for your extensive reply. Much appreciated!
    You have already read some opinions. Almost everybody will tell you that "may" and "might" deal with possibility. Some will tell you that "may" indicates possiblity and "might" indicates "less possibility". Most would agree with that. When someone starts putting actual percentages to expressions of possibility, I would run from that person. He knows not what he speaks.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #7

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    When someone starts putting actual percentages to expressions of possibility, I would run from that person. He knows not what he speaks.
    Mike,

    What's needed in any discussion on language is not just an opinion stating someone has made a mistake. Academic discussion means that you add proof and/or reasoned argument to show why you believe a particular person has made a mistake.

    I haven't noticed either proof or reasoned argument from you yet. I hope that will change.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Mike,


    I haven't noticed either proof or reasoned argument from you yet. I hope that will change.
    Same here. Do you have any proof that substantiates those numbers. Of course not.


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #9

    Re: Ms

    Hi,
    I was also amazed to see the percentage. I wonder how it was calculated.
    Cheers

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Ms

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Hi,
    I was also amazed to see the percentage. I wonder how it was calculated.
    Cheers
    Schemes like that one make me crazy. It is difficult enough to get people to agree on the relative strength of words that gradate a meaning, let alone select precise number ranges.

    I have seen a similar scheme for couple, few, several, a lot, many, numerous, etc.

    The problem there is that 10 houses or cars warrant a higher rating than 10 M&Ms.

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