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    #1

    Mayn't and mightn't

    Can't, couldn't, won't, wouldn't, mustn't, and shouldn't all sound OK to me, but mayn't and mightn't don't seem right.

    Should I not try to contract may not and might not into mayn't and mightn't respectively? Are they fine?

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    I use one of them quite a lot, and I don't think I've ever used the other. Can you work out which?

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    #3

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    I use one of them quite a lot, and I don't think I've ever used the other. Can you work out which?
    Mightn't is the former, and mayn't is the latter.

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    #4

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    I very occasionally use mightn't too but I wouldn't advise any learner to use it.

    Nobody uses mayn't, as far as I know.

    So no, don't use them.

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    #5

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    "mayn't" sounds like it might be used in certain non-standard dialects or in 18th-19th century English.
    NOT A TEACHER. Translator and editor, and I hold a TESOL certificate. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

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    #6

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    Few Americans ever say mustn't or mightn't.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Few Americans ever say mustn't or mightn't.
    Mustn't?! Is that a typo or you actually mean to say you don't really use mustn't?

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    #8

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Few Americans ever say mustn't
    Like Glizdka, I'm shocked I've never noticed that. That's really useful to know.

    Can you say any more about which speakers might and who, um, mightn't?

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    #9

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    Quote Originally Posted by Glizdka View Post
    Mustn't?! Is that a typo or you actually mean to say you don't really use mustn't?
    It isn't generally used in American English. We say must not. Mustn't sounds "British" to us.

    I think it may persist in New England, but I'm really not sure. I can't recall ever having heard an American use that contraction.

    This happens, I think, because we rarely use must to indicate a requirement. We use have to instead.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 13-Feb-2020 at 13:25.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: Mayn't and mightn't

    The idea that there is a word "mightn't" and people actually use it is all new information for me.

    "Mustn't" is unusual but at least I've heard it before.

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