may/might confusion

Douglas Bigham TlhovwI at AOL.COM
Fri Jan 18 07:30:39 UTC 2002

I also think the age factor in "may" vs. "might" isn't so clear.  For me,
"may" has never existed outside of a polite form of "can" (yeah, I know may
isn't a FORM of can, still...).  As in "May I go to the bathroom?" vs. "Can I
go to the bathroom."  That's it.  Everywhere else I have "might".  My
roommate, however, (whom I have known since kindergarten, same town, etc.)
makes a hard distinction between "may" and "might" (as well as "can" and
"could", which I'm not sure I do).  She's asleep.  I'll ask the difference

Then again, "might could" etc. are completely foreign to her, whereas I have
some of them.  I do not have "may can" or "may could", the second sounding
absolutely ridiculous to me.

Incidentally, we were both taught in jr. high that "might" was the past tense
of "may" and that was that.

Douglas S. Bigham
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

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