Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Today's English lesson

From the American Heritage Book of English Usage:

I Wait For May
With All My Might

It may rain.
It might rain.
What’s the difference? Just as could is the past tense of can, might is the past tense of may:
We thought we might win the tournament.
But might can also be used as a substitute for may to show diminished possibility. Thus, saying
We might go to the movies
means that the likelihood of going is somewhat less than if you say
We may go to the movies.
When used to express permission, might has a higher degree of politeness than may. Thus,
Might I express my opinion
conveys less insistence than
May I express my opinion.
In many Southern varieties of English, might is used in the “double modal” construction with could, as in
We might could park over there.
Less frequently, one hears may can and might should. These constructions are not familiar to the majority of American speakers and are best avoided in formal writing.

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