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    #1

    Is 'might' past tense?

    Is 'might' the past tense of 'may'? If not, what part of speech is it?

    Many thanks.

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    #2

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by kohyoongliat View Post
    Is 'might' the past tense of 'may'? If not, what part of speech is it?

    Many thanks.
    Yes and no.
    'might' is the past tense of 'may'
    'might' is also a modal.
    (Not a teacher)

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    #3

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Dear Teachers

    Could you please answer my query?

    Thanks in advance.

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #4

    Cool Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by kohyoongliat View Post
    Is 'might' the past tense of 'may'? If not, what part of speech is it?

    Many thanks.
    It isn't according to the rules of modern English. You can, however, find information in dictionaries saying that might is still the past tense of may, especially when it comes to using it in reported speech.

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    #5

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by kohyoongliat View Post
    Dear Teachers

    Could you please answer my query?

    Thanks in advance.
    Hi koh, you may/might find this site interesting.


    may/might

    This author considers might the past of may, others say they are equivalent.

    In this exercise some sentences can only be answered or sound more logical with might.

    May or Might - Online Language Quiz - UsingEnglish.com

    And finally, this discussion on this forum about the same question:

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/l...nse-might.html


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    #6

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    Hi koh, you may/might find this site interesting.


    may/might

    This author considers might the past of may, others say they are equivalent.

    Hello Heidita.

    This site is loaded with errors. It is a terrible site for students who want to really know how language works. The URL shouldn't read "brians/errors", it should read "Brian's errors".


    Most of the time “might” and “may” are almost interchangeable, with “might” suggesting a somewhat lower probability. You’re more likely to get wet if the forecaster says it may rain than if she says it might rain; but substituting one for the other is unlikely to get you into trouble—so long as you stay in the present tense.

    He is wrong about 'might' being the past tense of 'may'; it is not.


    But “might” is also the past tense of the auxiliary verb “may,” and is required in sentences like “Chuck might have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.” When speculating that events might have been other than they were, don’t substitute “may” for “might."
    Professor Brian is very unclear in his thoughts on this but he seems to be suggesting that 'might' must be used because it is the past tense of 'may'. Well, as I've already mentioned, it's not, so what could be his reason for this. Well, he's simply repeating an old prescription that is patently false.

    What Professor Brian is suggesting means that there are certain things that can't be expressed in English, a ludicrous position.

    Any number of speakers could have different opinions about this situation and as the examples show, these can be expressed by a number of modal and semi-modals as the examples below show.

    1. “Chuck certainly would have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    2. “Chuck would have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    3. “Chuck very likely have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    4. “Chuck probably/likely would have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    5. “Chuck may have have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    And finally,

    6. “Chuck might have avoided arrest for the robbery if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    not to mention,

    7. “Chuck probably wouldn't have avoided arrest for the robbery even if he hadn’t given the teller his business card before asking for the money.”

    and other possible variants.


    As an aside: if you are an old-fashioned child, you will ask, “May I go out to play?” rather than “Can I go out to play?” Despite the prevalence of the latter pattern, some adults still feel strongly that “may” has to do with permission whereas “can” implies only physical ability. But then if you have a parent like this you’ve had this pattern drilled into your head long before you encountered this page.
    This too is patently false. It's simply an errant prescription. Those "adults" do not feel that "can implies only physical ability". These "adults" also use 'can' for permission in their daily lives.

    As I said, Heidita, a terrible site for language.

    ###


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    #7

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    In this exercise some sentences can only be answered or sound more logical with might.

    May or Might - Online Language Quiz - UsingEnglish.com
    And some, in their "frozen formula meaning" normally take 'may'. I'm not sure what that illustrates, Heidita.

    I'm not even sure what this quiz is for. The funny thing is, in the right context, virtually every one of those could use what is described, errantly to my mind, as the incorrect answer.

    Q1 - I was just wondering whether you ____ be able to help me.

    Either may or might

    Q2 - ____ God have mercy on your soul.

    As a frozen formula, it's may but might is a possibility.

    Q3 - You ____ well be right.

    Either may or might

    Q4 - I told them I ____ go if I felt like it, but wasn't sure.

    Either may or might

    Q6 - The examiner says we ____ leave when we've finished.

    may is more likely but might is possible and can is the most likely

    Q7 - It ____ be very expensive, but it's much better than the others.

    Either may or might


    context context context context context

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    #8

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I'm not even sure what this quiz is for. The funny thing is, in the right context, virtually every one of those could use what is described, errantly to my mind, as the incorrect answer.
    I suppose the finality of the quiz is to teach students to distinguish may and might. I don't think it is confusing and believe it was made by grammar specialists.
    Last edited by heidita; 07-Mar-2008 at 12:53.

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    #9

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Riverside, you said this:

    He is wrong about 'might' being the past tense of 'may'; it is not.
    I just found this answer:

    might (v.)
    O.E. mihte, meahte, originally the past tense of may (O.E. magen "to be able"), thus "*may-ed." See may (v.). The first record of might-have-been is from 1848.
    Online Etymology Dictionary

    The Collins takes it as the past tense of may, too:

    "might {1}" en el diccionario Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus

    And I am sure there are just as many sources which state quite the opposite. Even though the Etymology Dict. strikes me as rather trustworthy.


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    #10

    Re: Is 'might' past tense?

    Kenneth G. Wilson (1923–). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.

    may, might (auxs.)

    For events in the present or immediate future, use either may or might (I may [might] decide to go after all), but for past time, most Standard users still prefer only might, as in, "Yesterday I might have decided to stay home", not the increasingly encountered, "Yesterday I may have decided to stay home." Journalese is now peppered with "may" where until recently "might" has been solidly entrenched.

    Also:
    might
    modal verb ( 3rd sing. present might )
    past of may , used esp.:
    • in reported speech, expressing possibility or permission : He said he might be late.
    • expressing a possibility based on a condition not fulfilled : We might have won if we'd played better.
    • expressing annoyance about something that someone has not done : You might have told me!
    • expressing purpose : He avoided social engagements so that he might work.

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