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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #1

    Usage of "concessive may"

    Dear Teachers,

    I have read about a structure called "concessive mayĒ, but I didnít understand it correctly.
    Could you please tell me how and when to use this structure? Please give some example sentences.

    Thanks in advance.


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 1,571
    #2

    Re: Usage of "concessive may"

    Quote Originally Posted by hsb View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    I have read about a structure called "concessive mayĒ, but I didnít understand it correctly.
    Could you please tell me how and when to use this structure? Please give some example sentences.

    Thanks in advance.
    Just a wild guess: Strange as it may seem, he hasn't turned up yet.

  1. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Usage of "concessive may"

    No matter how hard it may be, try your very best.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #4

    Re: Usage of "concessive may"

    Quote Originally Posted by hsb View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    I have read about a structure called "concessive mayĒ, but I didnít understand it correctly.
    Could you please tell me how and when to use this structure? Please give some example sentences.

    Thanks in advance.
    Concessive 'may' simply means that you allow for the possibility of something being true. It's often used in discussions, arguments, etc. and it's often used to mildly concede a point without conceding that it's 100% true. This way, you're not calling someone a liar even when you think they may well be/probably are lying.


    A: I wrote a check and mailed it to you about three weeks ago.

    B: While you may have written a check and mailed it, we certainly haven't received anything in this office and it's been over a month. The mail really isn't that slow. Why not just write a new one now and if the other one shows up, we'll call you.

    While that may be true, ...

    Allowing that that may be true, ...


    A: My girlfriend came here and talked to a Ms Jones.

    B: While she may have been here, she didn't talk to a Ms Jones because there is no Ms Jones here, hasn't been for as long as I've been here which is five years.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Usage of "concessive may"

    It may make it easier if you remember these linked words: concessive => concede => although

    So, if you can paraphrase a sentence with "may" in it with a sentence using "although", it's probably a concessive may.


    b

    PS To clarify a bit:

    You may have sent it, but we didn't get it.

    =>

    I concede that you claim to have sent it, but we didn't get it.

    =>

    Although you say you sent it, we didn't get it.

    => Original "may" is "concessive"
    Last edited by BobK; 24-Jun-2008 at 12:41. Reason: PS added

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Usage of "concessive may"

    A bit of cultural background to an idiom that uses the concessive 'may'.

    Not so long ago - though maybe late-'90s, it's been repeated fairly recently - there was a political thriller series on TV in the UK, called House of Cards . There was a not-so-good sequel called To Play the King. It was about a scheming politician called Francis Urquhart* ("FU" - geddit? ).

    Whenever he wanted to confirm a rumour, without coming out as far as making a public endorsement, he would say "You may think/say [he used either] that, but I couldn't possibly comment". All the while, his eyes were 'saying' "Yes, absolutely".

    The saying has been adopted as an idiom, used in any situation that's at all political (with a small p) - could be office politics, staff-room politics, sexual politics...

    Example:

    [Software Developer to Project Leader] 'Don't you think it's about time we got a raise?'
    [Project leader - subordinate to a Development Manager, who's imposed an absolute wage freeze] "You may think that, but I couldn't possibly comment."

    (It may be on DVD; if so, don't bother with the second one in the series. You could use it with advanced students - maybe just a couple of scenes, to show the idiom in use.)

    b

    *Like a lot of upper-class British surnames, this is much easier to say than it looks: /'ɜ:kət/ .
    Last edited by BobK; 01-Jul-2008 at 14:14. Reason: Added parenthesis at end and footnote

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