Might

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Maricles

Member
Mexico-Spanish
Hello

I know might is used to express possibility of happening, but, do you use it in interrogative or negative form? I've always heard it used in affirmative form, but I might be wrong.;)
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    If I may ask :)

    Do you use the contraction mightn't as well? It sound a little awkward to my ears as well as mayn't which seems to be even worse :(
    E.g.:
    You might be right, mightn't you?
    You may be right, mayn't you?

    Thanks in advance,
    Thomas
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Thomas1 said:
    If I may ask :)

    Do you use the contraction mightn't as well? It sound a little awkward to my ears as well as mayn't which seems to be even worse :(
    E.g.:
    You might be right, mightn't you?
    You may be right, mayn't you?

    Thanks in advance,
    Thomas
    Both of those sound dissonant to my ears. The alternatives, "might you not" or "may you not" sound stilted.
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    nycphotography said:
    Might we be having a bad day? Hummmmmm?
    Hmm, this sounds odd too.

    Usually we just use the main verb (usually be).
    Are we having a bad day? or just Having a bad day?
     

    JediMaster

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, United States
    As for the mightn't and the mayn't, mightn't sounds slightly less weird, but both aren't very commonly used in AE.

    The "might we be having a bad day?" comment doesn't sound all that bad, but you won't hear it in normal usage.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    As a rule of thumb: to express possibility in questions, replace "might" with "could".

    It might rain. Could it rain?
    That might be just what we need. Could that be just what we need?

    'May' is not used to express possibility in questions. 'Might' is nearly obsolete, to the point where its use is usually sarcastic, expressing either that the speaker is annoyed or that the speaker realizes the hearer is annoyed. Furthermore, in such an arch question (usually between friends or lovers), the subject would often be a sarcastic 'we' instead of 'you', as in "nycphotography's" example, "Might we be having a bad day? ;)" In fact, this is precisely the way my ex-girlfriend who had a college degree in English literature used to talk to me!

    The contraction 'mightn't' is definitely only dialectal or archaic.

    As I mentioned in a recent thread, may/might, the use of the "modal verbs" is in disarray. This has been an ongoing process for decades or perhaps centuries.
     
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