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Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Vs. Might: You Might Be Surprised

Mindy Lawrence is contributing to The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor today. In fact, she has promised to contribute a monthly post. So subscribe so you don't miss a single one.


By Mindy Phillips Lawrence

Many people confuse the usage of MAY and MIGHT for several good reasons. Their distinction is often subtle because they show a difference in MOOD.

MAY indicates a greater likelihood of something occurring than does MIGHT. For instance “I MAY go to the festival” shows a greater likelihood of attendance than does “I MIGHT go to the festival.”

A few exceptions to this general rule occur:

1. You should not use MAY in a negative hypothetical situation as it could indicate to the reader that the person does not have permission to do something. ”I may not go to the play” could be read as not having permission to go to the play. You always use MIGHT in this case.

2. To complicate matters, MIGHT is the past tense of MAY. If the event is in the past, MIGHT is always used. “My friend MIGHT have gone to the play last night.”

MAY is also used to ask permission, as in, "May I go to the play?" Using MIGHT here would show less hope for success in the request.

MAY you have good success with this rule.


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~Mindy Phillips Lawrence is the owner of MPL Creative Resources, . Reach her  for editing, writing, publicity, creative arts at ,

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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