He stopped so that I might catch up.

stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
He stopped so that I might catch up.

Is "might" correct? Should "might have caught up" be used instead?

Thank you very much.
 
  • stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I agree that "could" is better. I wanted to know if "might" is fine and why it is fine if it is.

    We don't say "thirty years ago, people might want to...". Instead, we say "thirty years ago, people might have wanted to...".

    Why is it acceptable to use "might" in OP?
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    So, does might point to the future in the past? I think could means "would be able to". Might doesn't seem to mean this.
     
    Last edited:

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    In the OP, "so that I might catch up" means "so that I would be able to catch up", "to allow me to catch up".
    Exactly! And that's where I sense a nuance of difference between 'might' and 'could' (provided the context supports this reading):

    "so that I might catch up" says that he gave me a channce to catch up - it doesn't imply that I did catch up.
    "so that I could catch up" strongly suggests that I did catch up, ie. he stopped and waited until I had caught up.

    Am I just imagining things or would you agree that this nuance is possible?
     
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