Reproachful use of "might have"

Loob

Senior Member
English UK
Re-reading previous threads about "may" and "might", it's struck me that we don't seem to have discussed the 'reproachful' use of "might have X", as in:

Knock-knock
Loob's husband: Who's that at the door?
Loob: Oh, that'll be my mother. I've invited her to stay with us over the weekend.
Loob's husband: You might have told me!

The husband, here, is saying something like I wish you'd told me! - the implication is that he's upset because Loob didn't tell him she had invited her mother to stay for the weekend.

In BrE, we can use both You might have told me! and You could have told me! for this meaning. In AmE, would You might have told me! be possible too, or would the only option be You could have told me!?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, Loob. AE-speakers do use "You might have told me!" with that meaning. This AE-speaker uses it every now and then. :)
     

    stevenst

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Hi,
    I searched "might have" and found this thread. I am surprised to learn that "might have" can mean "I wish you'd..". I thought that only "You should have..." was correct in this situation.

    I want to ask if there are only two possible meanings of "might have".
    You might have told me!
    1. I wish you had told me!
    2. It was possible that you had told me at some point in the past, but in fact you didn't tell me at all. (The only way in which I used to comprehend "might have" until discovering this thread)

    Thanks.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'You might have told me' does mean 'You had the opportunity to tell me'.

    In the situation described, it is a euphemistic way of saying 'You ought to have told me'.

    A similar euphemism occurs in the context of directions from a superior.
    A teacher at school will tell a pupil, 'You should (or 'must') correct your English grammar'.
    A lecturer at university might say to a student, 'You may want to check your English grammar'.
     

    stevenst

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Thanks, wandle.:)
    So "You may want to check your English grammar" euphemistically means "You must check your English grammar".
    "May" makes one's tone less commanding.
     
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