Welcome to your GrammarBook.com e-newsletter.
Thank you for your efforts to remind us of all those rules we were supposed to learn in grammar school! Keep up the good work and know that I refer to The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation often.
I adore everything about GrammarBook.com, from the simple, elegant design to the well-summarized content.
I continually enjoy learning through your weekly
Might You Mean May?
What is the difference between may and might? There may have been a clear difference long ago, and there still might be a difference in
some sticklers’ minds, but today the two verbs are, with few exceptions, interchangeable.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
Grammarians tell us that might is the past tense of may, but that fact, while interesting, does not offer much guidance, considering how
frequently we use both may and might to talk about the present (I may/might be ready to leave now) and the future (I may/might call you tomorrow).
Many scholarly discussions of may vs. might state that may is used when something is more likely to happen, and might
is used when something is less likely to happen. So when you say I may be ready to leave, there is a good chance you are departing, but
when you say I might be ready to leave, you’d probably prefer to stick around awhile.
It is remarkable how many authorities, even today, buy into this. In the 2016 revised edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage, Bryan A.
Garner writes, “May expresses likelihood … while might expresses a stronger sense of doubt.”
We find this assertion baffling, and we are not alone. The online American Heritage dictionary says in a usage note: “It is sometimes said that might suggests a lower probability than may … In practice, however, few people make this distinction.” This echoes what the
language scholar John B. Bremner wrote forty years ago: “Some lexicographers see a nuance between may and might in the context of
probability … If such distinction exists in common language, the distinction is even thinner than nuance.”
Here are some exceptions to the interchangeability of may and might:
• Sometimes might means “should”: You’d think he might be more careful means he should be more careful.
No one who speaks fluent English would substitute may for might in that sentence.
• Most of us choose may over might in wishful or hopeful statements, such as May they live happily ever after.
• When a hypothetical sentence is set in the past, might is usually a better option: If she had worked harder, she might have kept her job. But when such sentences are in the present tense, either may or might can
be used: If she works harder, she may/might be able to keep her job.
• And you will note that the first word in the title of this article could not possibly be “May.”
Free BONUS Quiz for You!
[[firstname]], because you are a subscriber to the newsletter, you get access to one of the Subscription Members-Only Quizzes. Click here to take a Your vs. You're Quiz and get your scores and explanations instantly!
Follow @GrammarBook on Twitter
GrammarBook.com is on Twitter! Follow @GrammarBook for weekly grammar tips, news, and information!
More Good News for Quiz Subscribers
We are pleased to announce that we have added even more quizzes to help you challenge yourself, your students, and your staff. We added quizzes to existing categories and created some new categories such as “Confusing Verbs,” “Subjunctive Mood,” “Comprise,” “Sit vs. Set vs. Sat,” and “Spelling.”
We reviewed and strengthened every quiz on our website to ensure consistency with the rules and guidelines contained in our eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
If you think you have found an error in a quiz, please email us at email@example.com.
“So convenient … hundreds of quizzes in one click.”
[[firstname]], Subscribe to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!
- Take the quizzes online or download and copy them.
- Get scored instantly.
- Find explanations for every quiz answer.
- Reproduce the quizzes to your heart’s content.
- EASY to use.
- No software to download.
- No setup time.
- A real person to help you if you have any questions!
Instructors and Employers: we make your life easier!
- Assign quizzes to your students or employees.
- Students log in from anywhere.
- Scores are tallied and compiled for you.
- You decide whether to let students see their own scores and quiz explanations.
- Let GrammarBook.com take the hassle out of teaching English!
“Fun to test my skills!”
“The explanations really help … thanks!”
Your choice: Subscribe at the $29.95 or $99.95 level ($30 off - previously $129.95).
“I download the quizzes for my students who don’t have computer access.”
Subscribe today to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!
“Makes learning English FUN!”
Don’t need all the quizzes at once?
You can now purchase the same quizzes individually for ONLY 99¢ each. Purchase yours here.
Get Yours Today!
Get Amazon’s No. 1 Best-seller in Four Categories!
No. 1 in Grammar
No. 1 in Reading
No. 1 in Lesson Planning
No. 1 in Vocabulary
The Blue Book of Grammar
by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern
The Authority on English Grammar!
Eleventh Edition Now Available
Have You Ordered Your Copy Yet?
An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, homeschool families, editors, writers, and proofreaders.
Available in print AND as an e-Book! Over 2,000 copies are purchased every month!
Order Your Copy Today!
- Hundreds of Grammar, Punctuation, Capitalization, and Usage Rules
- Real-World Examples
- Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words
- Quizzes with Answers
If you live in the United States or Canada, order The Blue Book through Wiley.com and get 30 percent off and FREE shipping! Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4AYY.*
For those of you who live outside the U.S. and Canada, although the publisher is not able to offer free shipping, you will get 35 percent off to help offset your shipping costs. Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4A.*
*Offer expires December 31, 2016.
Thank you to cartoonist Dan Piraro.
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.