"May" e "Might" - Caramba :-P

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by prankstare, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. prankstare Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Portuguese - Brazil

    Esqueci qual a diferença, ou melhor, quando é que devo usar "may" ou "might".

    Por exemplo, o "may" eu devo usar quando depende mais da outra pessoa para a ocorrência de algum fato ou seria o "might" ?

    "I may/might need your help."
    "This may/might be a good start."

    Estou confuso. :p
  2. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Perhaps others who learnt English as a foreign language can help you more than I, but here's my input anyway:

    To me, 'may' is slightly more formal than 'might'. They both indicate possibility, but 'might' is used quite a lot more often in day to day conversation. I think a lot of it is 'Sprachgefuehl' as to when you should use may or might, though foreigners may correct me on this! (To prove my point, I just automatically typed may without giving it a thought!)

    However, may is also used to make a request more polite:

    E.g: May I please be excused from the table?

    I have read several times that they are both versions of the subjunctive, 'may' apparently being the imperfect subjunctive I think. However, there is debate as to whether the subjunctive actually exists in English*, so I don't know how accurate this claim is.

    Hope that helped you (even just slightly) :)

    * Do not want to start a linguistical debate here! "If it were the case", "It is recommended that student be on time" etc etc, but have also read how this in fact is not the subjunctive, just people trying to fit English into a Latin framework...the Latin and English teachers at my school argue about it a fair bit!
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Como diz a Ayuplishad, a diferença não é muita.

    1. Geralmente, may e might indicam possibilidade, e querem dizer o mesmo. Quando muito, may é um pouco mais formal. I may be a little late to the meeting = I might be a little late to the meeting, "Pode ser que eu chegue um pouco atrasado à reunião".
    2. May pode indicar permissão (May I please be excused from the table? "Dão-me licença que deixe a mesa?...), o que não sucede com might.
    3. Em alguns casos, apenas may é possível, e tem um valor de subjuntivo (May you have a safe journey, "Que faças uma boa viagem").
    Que me lembre, são as principais diferenças.
  4. Ricardo Tavares Senior Member

    Português - Brasil
    Sempre pensei que may e might tivessem como diferença o tempo verbal, presente e futuro do pretérito, respectivamente, fazendo-se uma analogia com o português. May - significando "pode" e might - "poderia", nestes casos, ambos com sentido de possibilidade. O mesmo sucederia com:
    can - could
    shall - should

    Mas, obviamente, posso estar equivocado....
  5. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Lembro-me de também ter tido essa impressão, e talvez em inglês antigo as duas palavras realmente correspondessem a tempos distintos. Mas em inglês contemporâneo são muitas vezes equivalentes. Se fizerem uma busca no fórum de inglês ou no fórum inglês-espanhol, devem achar muitas discussões sobre may e might, com explicações melhores do que as que eu poderia dar.
  6. spielenschach Senior Member

    Portugal . Portuguese
    • - Can or may – I go out tonight? (= do you allow me to go out?);
    May I?= It’s OK to…/ Can I?
    - May I ask a question? (= Can I ask?)
    - «May I seat hear?» «Yes, of course
    • I may = I might:
    - I may go to the cinema this evening (= I might go…);
    - Sue may not come to the party (Sue might not come)
    • - What time are you going?
    - Well, I’m ready, so might as well go now. (or… I may as well
    go now)
    • The buses are so expensive these days, you might as well get a taxi. (= taxis are just as good, no more expensive).
    1. a) May can be used to express although clauses:
    She may be the boss, but that is no excuse for shouting like that.
    b) There is a type of may clause introduced by although which can be inverted.
    It is a highly formal expression:
    Although it may seem/be difficult, it is not impossible
    Difficult as/ though it may seem/be, it is not impossible.

    2. May have and might have:
    • Might have refers to past possibility which did not happenedYou might have drowned
    • Might have and may have refer to uncertainty:
    I suppose I might have been rather critical
    • Both can be used in the negative to express uncertainty:
    They might not have received our letter yet.
    • Might have is used to express annoyance someone’s failure to do something. There is strong stress on the words underlined:
    You might have told me my trousers were spilt (tore)
    • I might have known + would is an idiom by which the speaker expresses ironically that the action was typical of someone else:
    I might have known that he would belate.
    - It was jack who broke the vase.
    - I must have known.

    3. Must have and can’t have:
    These refer to the speakers certainty about a past action:
    - Someone must have taken it. (I’m sure they did.)
    - You can’t have lost it.
    Both can also be used with surely in exclamations:
    - Surely you can’t have eaten both of it!
    - Surely you must have noticed it!

    4. May / might as well:
    a) Clara and Helen has just missed the bus. The buses run every hour.
    - What shall we do? Shall we walk?
    - We might as well. It’s a nice day and I don’t want to wait hear for an hour.
    Obs. We might as well do something = (We) should do something because there is nothing better to do and there is no reason not to do it.
    You can also say ‘may as well’;
    b) This describes the only thing left to do, something which the speaker is not enthusiastic about:
    - Nobody else is going to turn up (arrive) now for the lesson, so you may as well go home.

    5. May and might both express possibility or uncertainty. May is more formal in common language:
    - The peace conference may find a solution to the problem.
    4. There is an idiomatic expression with try, using may for present reference, and might for past reference:
    Try as I might, I could not pass my driving test
    C. Formulaic subjunctive – There are fixed expressions all using subjunctive. Typical examples are:
    . Be that_as_it_may… (seja como for):He certainly was under pressure at the time. Be that as it may, he was still wrong to react in the way that he did.
    . Come what_may … (aconteça o que acontecer):Come what may, he will not change his mind.

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